It is with her baby in one arm and a camera in the other, that Maïmouna Doucouré began filming her first feature film, Cute, in January 2018. One way of asserting that “ it’s possible », Reports the young woman, 35, whose feminist fiber permeates the film. Inspired by his own childhood, he portrays Amy, an 11-year-old child who seeks to build herself as a woman, torn by her dual culture and two diametrically opposed models of femininity.
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” I myself wondered a lot about this question when I was a child. At Amy’s age I wanted to be a boy, felt fairer to me », She confides. Raised with nine brothers and sisters in a modest family of Senegalese origin, she very quickly noticed the injustices inflicted on the women around her. “My cousins, my neighbors were oppressed but resigned. At the time, it revolted me because I was powerless, she says. This is what is great about cinema. With Cute, I have the impression of giving a huge kick in the anthill and to speak about subjects not often approached and which are of an incredible violence. “
The director is all the more sensitive to these subjects as she has long forbidden herself to dream of the cinema in which she does not recognize herself. ” It took me a long time to accept that I was capable of it and that I had the right ”, she recounts. Maïmouna Doucouré studied biology, while writing stories and taking theater lessons. It is a friend who pushes her in 2013 to take a screenplay competition. The prize she won allows her to make her first self-produced short film, Hide and seek. His second short film Mom (s), on a young girl confronted, like her, with polygamy in her family, is selected in more than 200 festivals and obtains many awards including the César for best short film in 2017. “It gave me faith in myself”, she recognizes today.
Stick as close as possible to reality
If she quickly succeeded in putting together her first feature film, in particular thanks to the producer Zangro and his company Bien ou Bien productions, she admits having worked hard on the screenplay: a year and a half of investigation on the subject to stick as closely as possible to the reality and the valuable collaboration of another more experienced director, Alice Winocour (Proxima). Good pick since she won the award for achievement at the Sundance Film Festival, which had already rewarded her short film, and a special mention from the international jury at the last Berlinale.
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“This film is a cry of alarm and I hope that we do not come out indifferent. We tend to blame children who watch sexually-oriented videos on the Internet, but do adults wonder how they access these images and do we give them the tools to prepare for them? I believe that with this film, I took my part ”, she explains. The filmmaker is already working on two other screenplays, but will do “Grow your characters a little”. Committed films, “Because inequalities are tough”, and feminists, “Because it is so deeply rooted in me, that it is a fight that I will lead all my life”.