ByMatt Carter, writer at
If the zombie apocalypse kicks off you'll find me in the Winchester. @moremattcarter
Matt Carter

Tough Bond is available on iTunes and Video-On-Demand.

It could be argued we are living through a Golden Age of documentary filmmaking - a time where social issues and the suffering of the planet's most vulnerable inhabitants are packaged into 90-minute movies for our consumption and to stoke the fires of our moral outrage.

While this means we are now more aware than ever of the plight of the world's most disadvantaged, the downside is we are more immune to the horrors and injustices of life - the more we see people suffering, the less impact it begins to have on our consciousness.

So for Tough Bond, the directorial debut of Austin Peck and Anneliese Vandenberg to cause shock and outrage is testament to the power, horror and brutality of this incredible movie.

Shot on location over a number of years in Kenya, Tough Bond follows the lives of four individuals who've been eaten up and spat out by a society that would rather look the other way than lend a helping hand.

The title of the movie refers to the name of the manufactured glue the street kids sniff to cope with a life that is as cruel as it is unfair - as Sinbad, one of the kids living on the streets of Isiolo testifies: when they huff glue there's "no stress for food. No stress, no cold."

However, Tough Bond isn't only about a lost generation of kids hooked on glue - although in almost every scene there's a bottle of the stuff dangling limply from their mouths. At it's heart Tough Bond is about relationships. The relationship between a mother and her child; the relationship between a community and its children; the relationship between a government and its most vulnerable members of society.

When this bond is broken, the documentary argues, there is no support system in place, no hope for a normal life for those lost in the system.

With Kenya's rapid urbanization shifting people away from the traditional support structures of their family and village and towards the big cities, more and more kids are falling into this abyss - a place of such hardship that when someone is told they have HIV they don't have enough energy to cry. They no longer have any more sadness left to give.

Life on the streets is a lonely existence - the only real intimacy coming from the kids who pass out from glue consumption and slump unconscious on top of each other.

In the final scene of the movie, we are taken back to the shore of Lake Turkana, to a family living in a village. Life is tough and food is scarce - a seemingly never-ending drought turning the land into a desert wasteland. The father, with two children to feed, doesn't know if they'll survive. He won't go to the city to look work, but would rather die at home with his family.

We are all going to die sometime, he seems to be saying, but we don't all have to die alone.

Tough Bond is a tough watch, but it's essential viewing. You can catch it now on VOD and iTunes.


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