THE STORY OF ANNETTE ZELMAN
L’Histoire d’Annette Zelman
West Coast Premiere | France | 2023 | Drama, Biopic, War | 93 min | In French with English subtitles
Directed by: Philippe Le Guay
Written by: Emmanuel Salinger, Laurent Joly
Produced by: Patricia Boutinard-Rouelle (Nilaya Productions), France Televisions
Cinematography: Pénélope Pourriat
Film Editing: Monica Coleman
Original Score: Bruno Coulais
Cast: Ilona Bachelier (Annette Zelman), Julie Gayet (Christiane Jausion), Laurent Lucas (Hubert Jausion), Vassili Schneider (Jean Jausion), Daniel Cohen (Moishe Zelman)
International Sales: Film & Picture
US Distributor: Menemsha Films Original Broadcast: France 2, January 2023
Based on a true story, this WWII Romeo-and-Juliet tale unfolds against the backdrop of the early Nazi occupation of Paris, and on the heels of a triumphant anti-Semitic art exhibition. Intoxicated with their own youthful exuberance and caught up in the early ’40s bohemian arts scene, Annette and Jean meet and fall in love. She’s an art student from a close-knit working-class Jewish family; he, an aspiring novelist and the only son of devoutly Catholic upper crust parents. The star-crossed lovers want to get married, but societal forces and brutal anti-Semitic laws are against them. Philippe Le Guay‘s powerful, yet simple, film depicts both the romantic splendor of young love convinced it can overcome all obstacles and an abject cultural obsequiousness that blindly, almost despite itself, contributes to mass atrocities.
Writer/director Philippe Le Guay studied film at the prestigious IDHEC, began his career as a screenwriter, then quickly ventured into directing. His first short film, Le Clou (1984), received the Audience Award at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. A keen observer of his time, he has written and directed numerous TV movies and comedy features, including The Cost of Living (COLCOA 2004); the run-away hit, The Women on the Sixth Floor (Audience Award winner, COLCOA 2011); Bicycling with Molière (COLCOA 2013), which was nominated for a César Award for Best Original Screenplay; Naked Normandy (COLCOA 2018); and The Man in the Basement (2021).