Neneh Superstar - Film Review (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024)

Neneh Superstar - Film Review (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024)

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Posted 2024-03-18 by Jenfollow

Wed 06 Mar 2024 - Tue 02 Apr 2024


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A film from the French Film Festival, Neneh Superstar stars Oumy Bruni Garrel as Neneh, Maiwenn as Marianne Belage - director of the school, Aissa Maiga as Neneh's mother, Steve Tientcheu as Neneh's father, Cedric Kahn, Alexandre Steiger, Richard Sammel and Nathalie Richard.

With dance in her veins, 12-year-old black girl Neneh dreams of entering the Paris Opera Ballet School. From a socially disadvantaged background and being black, she's a challenge to the longstanding dominance of white dancers in classical ballet and the harsh and discriminatory headmistress Marianne Belage. While the film celebrates talent and perseverance, it also serves as a reminder that prejudice remains a significant barrier for many. The French Film Festival will only be around till 2 April, so be sure to check out the rest of the fantastic program before it leaves our shores.

Images this and below © Gaumont

Neneh is a little bundle of dynamite; filled with energy, she bristles with her love for dance. There's nothing pretentious about her. She's from a humble family, speaks her mind, and is lucky to have a dad who supports her love for dance. Mum is not too sure and doesn't think dancing is a real job. The application to be considered for ballet school is enough to give you an idea of how stringent the process is going to be, when they include questions about your parent's height and weight, in order to extrapolate the children's development and therefore their worthiness to be considered.

At the interview it's a tug-of-war between the judges; the headmistress completely against Neneh to guarantee the tradition of white ballet. For her, Neneh is an outsider, poor and doesn't fit the mould - challenging the longstanding dominance of white dancers in classical ballet. This headmistress is the very woman, a legendary dancer and teacher Neneh hugely admires. The positive votes outweigh the negative, and Neneh gets in, only to be faced with more challenges from the headmistress who is both a mentor and a challenge for her, along with her fellow students. Neneh herself is not the perfect victim in this situation as she's often rude, distracted, interrupts and fights back, because she's twelve. But she's a twelve-year-old with heart and gives way to the dominant opinion of how the order of things should be.


Oumy Bruni Garrel is an absolute star as Neneh, and a natural in front of the camera that exposes her every angst and joy she projects to the audience. Maiwenn is also impeccable in a formidable portrayal as the headmistress you'd love to hate. Two strong leads surrounded by the natural warm love and understanding portrayed between father and daughter give this film a lot of heart and emotion that resonates deeply. The father-daughter relationship gives much joy, as the rest of Neneh's dance world is filled with prejudice and discrimination.

Born to dance, this is a story about following your dream, about resilience, challenging conventions, and determination, all placed on the shoulders of a twelve-year-old. Like the twelve-year-old she is, Neneh doesn't always have the grace of maturity to fight for herself, when you're in your seat wishing she'd say something to support her case. The negativities Neneh faces are seen through the lens of a child's experience. Her journey is one that takes on societal issues that reach far beyond the doors of the ballet school and is a mirror held up to society. Despite all of it, Neneh wants it all, including playing the lead in Snow White. What are her chances?





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280549 - 2024-03-13 14:58:24

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