Bastards, film review: An intimate and moving portrait of poor single mothers in Morocco

(12A) Deborah Perkin, 82 mins
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The Independent Culture

Deborah Perkin's feature-doc explores the plight of poor single mothers in Morocco, fighting against a deeply patriarchal system that won't recognise their children.

In Muslim countries, sex outside marriage is illegal. As "bastards," illegitimate kids are therefore denied education and often even the most basic healthcare. Their mothers are despised. The fact that the fathers may have misled and abandoned the women is overlooked.

Perkin focuses in particular on Rabha El Haimer, a young mother who was married at 14. The wedding was never formally registered and she is now fighting for her daughter's rights.

Thanks to her links with the campaigning charity Solidarité Féminine, Perkin is able to film the key moments in Haimer's court case. She provides an extraordinarily intimate and moving portrait of her subject, a woman who refuses to accept second best for her child, whatever the conventions and prejudices of the society around her.