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(AFP) – She is in all the shots of the first feature film by Kamir Aïnouz, “Honey Cigar”, in theaters on Wednesday: Zoe Adjani lights up this film with her talent as an actress, prompting connections with her aunt Isabelle.
The young actress, born in 1993 and whose features match those of her famous relative, is bluffing natural in this drama anchored in 37 in Paris where she plays Selma , 17 years old, from a wealthy family from Neuilly-sur-Seine who joined a business school in the capital.
As the electrified gazes of the boys rest on her and her desire for emancipation burns, the young woman of Berber origin is confronted with the weight of the traditions that are exercised in the family intimacy.
Torn between her imperious desire to regain control of her life and that of not denying her cultural origins, Selma engages in a quest for identity tity which will take her to the mountains of Kabylia, where her Algerian family lives.
For her supporting role in the cinema after “Cerise” (2015), by Jérôme Enrico, Zoé Adjani explains that she recognized herself in this character with a “fighting spirit” to whom all the material means are given to be accomplished, but whose sole obsession is to free her body and her life as a woman.
And this, at a time when in the country of origin of her parents, loving but carrying a cultural heritage the opposite of her aspirations, the violence of the civil war crystallized.
“There is a real resemblance in the search for femininity and the learning of the body, but also of identity, origins and family ties sometimes chiseled by a war or a language “, explained Zoé Adjani at the last festival of Les Arcs (Savoie), where the film was scheduled.
“I discovered Kabylia, with which I have a rather secret, strong and intimate link. e, through the film, which was as much my initiatory journey as that of Selma “.
– Sensuality incarnate –
A subtle sensuality infuses this feature film where the body is scrutinized. For the actress, it is first of all “a game” necessary for women to define their “own spheres”.
“It is a fundamental expression of the spirit of a woman and this is something that Zoe expresses in a very fine way. Above all, it was important not to overdo it and that it be embodied in a natural way because it is natural “, underlines Kamir Aïnouz.
The Franco-Algerian director, who sees sensuality as “the number one weapon of emancipation” for women, explains that she relied on the “skin-deep” interpretation of her actress to “make feel the interiority” of her character.
“Zoe appropriated this role with a lot of sensitivity and understood it in her flesh. I could read it on her face “, details the filmmaker, who has endeavored to establish a relationship of trust with her actress allowing her” to break down all barriers “and to seek in her” a sharpness on the razor’s edge “.
” We agreed on the way I was going to stage her body. We were able to explore a lot of things that were necessary for this role “, specifies Kamir Aïnouz.
Thanks to the character of Amira Casar, who plays the mother of the teenager, “Honey Cigare” also draws an intergenerational picture of women confronted with patriarchal traditions that unfold both in their bourgeois family environment and outside, and in particular in the codified world of business schools.
“These diktats are not clearly identified because they are deeply rooted in culture and education”, considers Zoé Adjani.