The Fruitless Tree

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There is certainly some pressure to procreate in Western societies, but in some countries, it’s not even a question of choice. Married but childless, director Aicha Macky’s circumstance is judged unacceptable in her native Niger. Doctors haven’t been able to determine why she can’t conceive, but in her conservative Muslim society, women are always getting blamed for infertility, while men are rarely diagnosed. Speaking to her departed mother who died in childbirth, she expresses her deep sadness: “By giving life, you lost yours, whereas I’m dying a slow death by not being able to give life.” Drawing from her personal experience, Macky bravely addresses the taboo of childlessness and the stigma Nigerien women like her must endure. Through delicate, exquisitely shot portraits, and sensitive observation of other women’s secret suffering, she finds a way to affirm herself as a fulfilled individual among mothers.

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