Centers on Ahmed and Isra'a, parents of three children who lost their job due to the country's economic crisis. Isra'a finds out about her fourth pregnancy at this time when they cannot afford to raise one more child.
“We’d like to ask you for a favour you refused 5 years ago.”
The Burdened is the International Feature submission from Yemen. The film takes place in Aden, in October 2019, and it’s about a family of five: Ahmed and Isra’a, and their three children. The country is still embroiled in a war that’s been going on since 2014. Salaries aren’t getting paid, including for Ahmed who hasn’t been paid in over two months. Schools are shut down. The economic struggles are affecting everyone. And to add to the burden, Isra’a has just found out that she’s pregnant with a fourth child. A child that they can’t afford.
Due to the civil war, prices have tripled in the last few months, while everyone’s salary has remained the same. In order to cope with the financial stress, Ahmed has taken a second job as a bus driver. The family has also been forced to downgrade from their beachfront apartment to a run down basement in the city centre. Ahmed and Isra’a have also decided to have an abortion. But how is it possible to get an abortion in a strict Muslim country with laws that forbid it? With frequent power outages, with people scrambling to pay their bills, and with everyone on the brink of a breakdown, Ahmed and Isra’a are forced to make life changing decisions.
The film isn’t explicitly about war, but it’s undoubtedly about dealing with the consequences of war. The government isn’t paying its workers. The electricity supply is unreliable. The military remains in power but no one really knows who is controlling the country. These aspects of life are integrated into The Burdened, along with the stresses that it’s having on Isra’a and Ahmed’s marriage and their relationship. And on top of that, it’s the insurmountable pressure of having an abortion where there’s no option to have it.
The film is about the struggle for survival. It’s about the mundane aspects of daily life, like having food, like having water, like having electricity, like having a place to sleep at night. It’s a brutally honest representation of the quiet pain and exhaustion of a family making their way through a chaotic landscape and trying to do something that will make life just a little less difficult.
We need to be saved from this misfortune. Ahmed and Isra'a are just one of many families who are burdened with an unfair reality of being stuck in a civil war that none of them wanted in the first place.