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French-Senegalese actress Annabelle Lengronne came to FEST to present the film ‘Mother and Son’ (Un petit frère) directed by Léonor Serraille, in which she plays the title role. She stated before the journalists of the 51st FEST that she was very pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome here.
‘My Rose, that is the name of the character I portray in the film "Mother and Son", does notcome to France for a better life, but to be able to choose the life she wants for her children, her two sons’, she said.
 The actress was awarded at festivals in France and Stockholm for her role as a single mother of two sons with whom she leaves the Ivory Coast for Paris. She says that the film;s story covers a period of two decades, in which we follow the main characters’ attempts to reconcile two different worlds, the one they should live in and the one they left. According to her, in order to provide a better life for her children, her Rose degrades herself. Since the diplomas of migrants from Africa are not recognized in France, she agrees to work as a maid after her job as a teacher.
Lengronne explained that the film had been inspired by real characters and events because the director and screenwriter Léonor Serraille had written the Rose’s character after her mother-in- law. She stated that her biological mother as well had come from Senegal to France, but that she had been born in Paris, she had been adopted by white parents, while her mother had returned to her homeland.
‘Playing Rose made me wonder what kind of life my mother would have had if she had not returned to Senegal, and this role gave me the opportunity to honour her in some way’, said the actress. According to her, in France, the acting profession is difficult for actors of her skin color, because she has to deal with the fact that ‘she is not considered just a “black” actress’. She pointed out that typical roles and emotions were often imposed on them and that a black woman in French film ‘is always a victim, experiences failures and is constantly nervous’. ‘I worked on the composition of the character in a special way. Rose is a maid and she makes boring repetitive movements and, in that way, she actually ages quickly’, she said, adding that working with child actors had been a special challenge.

‘Jean and Ernest are non-professional actors, of course, and it was a challenge for us not to cause them to burst into laughter when they call me mother’, Lengronne told the reporters.

According to her, the film ‘Mother and Son’ was released in cinemas across France on February 1st, and the reactions of the audience were encouraging. ‘After the film, I was approached by a gentleman in his sixties, a white man, who said that he could identify with Rose, because he was a single father. For me, this is already the success of this film, because it established a connection between people who, at first glance, do not have much in common,’ says the actress.

The audience can see the film ‘Mother and Son’ within the FEST Focus programme on 4 March in the Yugoslav Film Archive and on 5 March (9.30 p.m.) in MTS Hall.



Knjaz Miloš