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LOUISE, THE REBEL

France, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Charlotte Silvera

Louise is a teenager. Her parents are Tunisian Jews and settled in France shortly after Tunisia achieved its independence. The family lives in a suburb of Paris and although they're not exactly poor they have to keep an eye on the pennies as they all depend on the modest income of their salesman father. The mother, who shuns all contact with “the French” only ever leaves the house to go to Belleville to buy kosher meat, and has total control over the family. Nothing escapes her, the doors in the house are always open and she knows where her daughters are every minute of the day. They - Louise, Viviane, the eldest and Gisele, the baby of the family are her whole life.

The family follows Jewish traditions to the letter. For instance, it's out of the question for the girls to eat in the school canteen where there is no kosher food. This distinction presents no problems for Gisele, and Viviane accepts it with resignation, but Louise wholeheartedly rejects it.

This film is about this battle. In under two weeks the internal revolution, which aggravates the conflict between the chid and the person who personifies for the permanence of family and religious traditions - her mother - has run its full course. The mother is trapped in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand she wants her daughters to do well at school and so be able to integrate themselves into French society, but on the other she demands blind obedience from them when it comes to their traditions, and forbids them any contact with their French friends out of school, punishing them harshly for the slightest infringement of this rule. This contradiction which gnaws at the fabric of the family materialises in the family living room in the form of the television which is permanently on and irreverently accompanies the father's prayers for the sabbath.

And through the television, this february of 1961, news of their North African homeland is forced to their attention, the homeland they don't talk about any more.

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