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Mambar Pierrette

A film by Rosine Mbakam

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The city of Douala is getting ready for the start of the school year. A long line of customers come to Mambar Pierrette, the neighborhood dressmaker, to have their clothes ready for upcoming social events and ceremonies. More than a seamstress, Pierrette is the confidant of her customers. But when it starts pouring and the rain threatens to flood her workshop - one of many misfortunes - Pierrette will have to stay afloat.

“Poignant. Mambar Pierrette is likely to resonate with audiences who are interested in stories of resilience and the human spirit. It offers a unique perspective on the lives of African women - one that is often overlooked in mainstream cinema.” —AKOROKO

“With Mambar Pierrette, Rosine Mbakam creates a striking and exceedingly realistic portrait of a woman, recreating her heroine’s daily life with sharpness and meaning, relying on her time at work, and on the entrée the sewing workshop’s open door provides to Pierrette’s world. You might call Mambar Pierrette realistic fiction, where narrative threads are woven together to provide startling depth for grasping what is real, and serve to cast new gazes on the world, bolstered by one fascinating precept: sometimes how you make a film is what makes it.” —Cinevox

“With extreme simplicity, and using the utmost discretion in her direction, Rosine Mbakam disappears behind the outlines of her character, who is crafted with fine strokes in a register that combines description with sharp social critique.” —Le Monde

“A rush of emotion came over Cannes following the screening of Mambar Pierrette and its director’s poignant speech. Formerly a documentary filmmaker, Cameroonian Rosine Mbakam came to the Directors’ Fortnight to present her first fictional work, which is both extremely personal and steeped in the bitterness of the real world. The film is humble and righteous, without being pessimistic. This is in large part thanks to its heroine, who is terse in the face of despair, and always on the move, ready to seize the slightest glimmer of a carefree future.” —Télérama

“Mbakam transforms Pierrette into an icon of resilience…. She intersperses the real and the fictional so deftly that, in some scenes, it is difficult to determine what is staging and what is not.”  —VHS Cut

“Mbakam borrows from documentary, demonstrating a commitment to responding to life rather than forcing it to conform to cinematic tendencies.” —Document Journal

“Mambar Pierrette is attuned to the rhythms of laboring women and the communities enriched by their presence. Her pivot to fiction feels anchored by the same careful eye which surveilled Sabine—the salon manager of Chez Jolie—framing her in mirrors, between clients; a kinetic, reassuring presence... It takes a certain amount of reverence to relay your country to an international audience cavities and all, though Mbakam has always understood the whorling nature of homesickness.” —Screen Slate

“Though these depictions of the travails of women and their families in her country may appear familiar at first, Mkabam’s films lead to a profound understanding of the ways in which a singular woman subtly transforms the fate of everyone around her.” —AllArts

“Mbakam’s heroines are not victims, they are lucid and assertive, able to read their environments and endear their audiences with ease. Yet, in this film, Mambar’s spotlight is stolen towards the end by the appearance of a clown whose brief, moving monologue touches on subversive gender expression, popular justice, and the state of performing arts in Cameroon—“Art is dead in this country”, he laments, a cutting declaration and one that the film is actively resisting.” —Ultra Dogme

Cannes Film Festival 2023 – Director’s Fortnight
Toronto International Film Festival 2023
New York Film Festival 2023

93 minutes / Color
French; Bamileke; Cameroon Pidgin / English subtitles
Release: 2023
Copyright: 2023

Subject areas:
Africa, Fiction Feature Films, Economic Sociology, Cultural Anthropology

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