Hot Docs 2013: Tough Bond (2013)
Documentary film has the power to take us to places we’ve never been and never will be, though sometimes risks taking us to places we wish we had never seen. So it is with Tough Bond, a three-year chronicle of the lives of lost street kids in Kenya. If you think that “tough bond” refers to the proto-families these kids forge with another, you’d be right. But Tough Bond is also the brand of glue they sniff to escape the harsh conditions of their lives.
Directors Austin Peck and Anneliese Vandenberg spent three years following 4 of these street kids and the result is heartbreaking. Kenyan slums are filling with orphaned and neglected children driven from rural villages by poverty and starvation and they are indeed lost. Cut off from the elders who would traditionally protect and care for them, and they are left to forge tenuous “family” bonds among themselves. To its credit, Tough Bond never devolves into pity, but instead presents these kids warts and all.
Make no mistake, Tough Bond is a tough watch. You’ll see children so high on glue they have to propped up by their friends and you’ll hear one girl casually consider the possibility of being gang raped by her street family – but you’ll also feel weirdly grateful to have been given a glimpse into a world that’s so foreign to your own.
A Gallery of Images from Tough Bond
Watch the Tough Bond Trailer