This film reconciled me with classical music Divertimento

  • January 25, 2023 6:48 AM EST

    As the film Divertimento hits theaters today, we spoke with its lead actress, Oulaya Amamra, about music, sorority and the place of women in artistic circles.

    Divertimento is a positive and inspiring story as many should be. This is the story of Zahia Ziouani ( Oulaya Amamra ), a 17-year-old teenager who dreams of becoming a conductor. It is also that of his twin Fettouma ( Lyna El Arabi ), who accompanies him in this great symphonic adventure, and of their parents who always encourage them. But how can you accomplish such an ambition in 1995 when you are a woman of Algerian origin and come from Seine-Saint-Denis? Director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaartells us, in pictures. She films the frenetic passion of these young women, without ever romanticizing it, as much as their need to share. Rocked since childhood by classical music, they in turn wish to make it visible and accessible.

    We follow these two sisters who seem tireless, during their long daily journeys from Stains to Paris to study at the prestigious Racine high school, during the lessons they take – one of the viola, the other of the cello – then that they animate in return. We also observe them in the evening, when they rehearse in silence, in their minds, from their girl's bed. We are amazed to see their determination. And to this rhythm of life, there are still many obstacles: sectarianism, racism, misogyny... “Orchestral conducting is not for women” would simply say Sergiu Celibidache ( Niels Arestrup ), famous Romanian conductor, before becoming Zahia 's mentor .

    But the courage does not weaken and, under her baton, Zahia Ziouani orchestrates the music to the rhythm of her dreams. This force also reminds us of the person who interprets it, Oulaya Amamra . If Divertimento was her very first classical concert, the French actress – who received the César for best female hope in 2017 for the film Divines , which revealed her – nevertheless discovered several similarities with the career of the musician. Encounter.

    One-on-one with Oulaya Amamra
    vogue. What did you like about the idea of ​​playing Zahia Ziouani in the cinema?
    Oulaya Amamra . I was inspired by her journey and the obstacles she overcame to create her orchestra. She succeeded in achieving her dream. It was stronger than anything. I think there was really everything for me to say yes to this role. In addition, I felt quite close to her because we have the same origins, I also grew up in the suburbs, it was also hard to do what I want to do… I think she is a real model to follow.

    It's a very technical role. How did you prepare to play it?

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    I attended many gestural classes that Zahia Ziouani gave. As I had to adopt his way of conducting an orchestra, but also his language and his way of speaking, we spent a lot of time together working on the pieces we were going to hear in the film. There were more than thirty musical excerpts from different works to remember, so we worked a lot. We also did a bit of music theory, but only the basics because we had little time and I was going very far. And then Zahiaalso trusted me on my sensitivity. I did classical dance so I had a little ease with the physical aspect, the fluidity of the movements, the rhythmic steps. I think she was very afraid that the actress who was chosen would be arrhythmic, because indeed to be a conductor you have to have a musical ear and a sense of rhythm to then be able to give it.