“Neneh superstar”: color that does not go to Paris Opera

Director Ramzi Ben Sliman intends to denounce the low opening of the cultural institution to diversity in his film which abuses shortcuts and caricatures.

by Murielle JOUDET

We had never undoubtedly filmed classical dance under the prism of institutional racism. In Neneh Superstar, director Ramzi Ben Sliman chooses to tackle it through a child’s look, Neneh, a 12 -year -old girl from a popular district and who, from passion technique, has everything to integrate The Ballet School of the Paris Opera – everything except the good skin color. She succeeds in her hearing not without a hitch, because the debates are stormy within the opera team: some teachers wonder if this black body would not come to spot on stage, damage the homogeneous line of white bodies.

After this cruel scene and rather well felt in his way of not going there dead hand, Neneh Superstar seems to think that to unmask xenophobia of an elite discipline, you have to push the cursors to the maximum – at the risk of shortcuts and caricatures. The director seizes an institutional racism which assumes and asserts himself loud and clear, while he is much more insidious and larv.

Opposite, Neneh is filmed as an explosive, unruly body, with manners and familiar language that detonate in an environment portrayed as boring and corseted – it is again, take up a cliché on what would be a young girl of suburb, unable to internalize the standards of the environment which it claims to want to integrate.

excess of contrasts

The film addresses a delicate and exciting subject, but prefers the excess of contrasts to scriptwriting finesse. Also as evidenced by the character played by Maïwenn, a professor who denied his origins, but again by taking out the big hooves. Finally, we would like to put aside a detail as it seems extra-cinematographic but which continues to hinder our appreciation: the role of Neneh is entrusted to Oumy Bruni Garrel, daughter of actors and filmmakers Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Louis Garrel.

In the press kit, the director justifies this choice by explaining that he had to find a young actress who knows how to dance and play and that Oumy Bruni Garrel was the only one to meet these two conditions. There is as a dead angle here (that of social reproduction, cultural capital, the racial question that one thinks to be able to grasp outside of a class reading), a denial which comes to contradict the political message that the film try to deliver.

/Media reports cited above.