Tuesday, October 11 – Renoir Theatre – 7:45 pm
(Screening ends at 9:45 pm)
+ Short Film Presentation: PAYRAISE
Followed by a conversation with  writer/director
Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar 


Presented in Association with:
France Televisions
Le Pacte
Women in Film


International Premiere | France | 2023 | Drama, Biopic | 111 min | In French with English subtitles

Directed by: Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
Written by: Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, Clara Bourreau
Produced by: Olivier Gastinel (Estello Films) Marc-Benoît Créancier (Easy Tiger), France 2 Cinéma
Cinematography: Naomi Amarger
Film Editing: Benoît Quinon
Cast: Oulaya Amamra (Zahia Ziouani)Lina El Arabi (Fettouma Ziouani)Niels Arestrup (Sergiu Celibidache), Zinedine Soualem (the father), Nadia Kaci, Lionel Cecilio
International Sales: Le Pacte

Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar‘s powerful seventh feature, Divertimento, plunges us, heart and soul, into the voluptuous world of classical music.  At times weaving a rich tapestry of sound and melodies to express what’s going on in her heroine’s head, the film recounts the inspiring, true story of Zahia Ziouani.  A determined, gifted 17-year-old musician, Zahia has but one dream — to become a conductor.  Music is her life; it’s a love she shares with her entire family.  Yet, in 1995, all odds seem to be stacked against her.  First and foremost, she’s a woman.  The daughter of Algerian immigrants.  From a working-class background.  None of that plays well at her stuffy Parisian conservatory, or at the competitions she embarks upon.  Her path is strewn with obstacles.  Yet, in her drive to make symphonic music accessible to one and all, she somehow creates the culturally-diverse Divertimento orchestra, based in her own Parisian immigrant neighborhood.  The real-life Zahia continues to conduct that orchestra to this day.  Watching this ode to one young woman’s musical passion, it’s almost impossible not to feel one’s heart soar.

Writer/director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar began her career joining forces with Pierre Kubel and Frédéric Bourboulon to create the production company Friday Film, and producing films for directors like Antoine de Caunes, Pierre Jolivet and Richard E. Grant.  In 2009, she co-wrote the screenplay for La Première étoile with director Lucien Jean-Baptiste, which won the Audience Award and Grand Prix at the Alpe d’Huez International Comedy Festival, and the Audience Award at the Hamburg Film Festival; as well as its sequel, La Deuxième étoile (2017).  In 2012, she wrote and directed her first feature, Ma première fois.  That was followed by Bowling (2012); Once in a Lifetime, which won the Audience Special Award and the Critics Special Award at COLCOA in 2015; Heaven Will Wait (COLCOA 2017); All About Mothers (2018); and A Good Man (2020), which was an official selection at Cannes that year and took the FIPRESCI Prize at the Festival del Cinema Europeo.  In 2021, she directed an episode of H24, 24h de la vie d’une femme, an Arte series inspired by 24 true stories of violence against women.

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