French-Malian-Senegalese actress Aïssa Maïga may not (yet) be a name most Americans are familiar with, but readers of this blog over the years should (hopefully) be somewhat familiar with her (whether her name, or her face), as we’ve covered many of the films she’s made in the last several years.
Most recently, earlier this month as a matter of fact, I wrote about a new film she’s co-starring in with Lucien Jean-Baptiste, titled “Il a déjà tes yeux” (“He Even Has Your Eyes”), a dramedy about a black couple (played by Jean-Baptiste and Maïga) who unwittingly adopt a white baby, and the family that comes along with the child.
The film is set for release later this year in France, and is just one of 4 films Maïga stars in that are scheduled to premiere in French theaters over the next 12 months, starting with this one (it’ll be reelased in 2 weeks), which I just received information about, titled “Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont” (“Welcome to Marly-Gomont”).
Also a dramedy, the film’s synopsis reads (translated from French): In 1975 Kinshasa, Seyolo Zantoko, fresh out of medical school, seizes the opportunity to take an open position for a doctor in a small French village called Marly-Gomont. Moving there, Seyolo and his family quickly find themselves disillusioned. The isolated white Marly-Gomont population have never seen black people before in their lives, so you can imagine what happens next, as Seyolo, undeterred by all the uncertainties that surround him and his family, remains determined to succeed in his new post, and win the villagers over.
Marc Zinga, who starred in Abd Al Malik’s 2014 critically-acclaimed drama, “May Allah Bless France!,” stars in “Marly-Gomont” as Seyolo, while Maïga plays his wife, Anne Zantoko.
Julien Rambaldi directs the film.
This kind of “racial comedy” isn’t unusual in *new* French cinema; we’ve covered French films like this in the recent past, so I can’t say there’s anything particularly fresh about the story, except that it is inspired by a true story, and it’s more of a “period piece” since it’s set in 1975. The other film I mentioned in this post – “Il a déjà tes yeux” (“He Even Has Your Eyes”) – also very much falls under the “racial comedy” umbrella; seemingly harmless, but… in a country like France that is apparently becoming even more intolerant and racist (although I suppose we could say that about other parts of the world), you have to wonder where films like these land in the bigger picture, how they’re received, what their messages or intentions are, and whether they have any influence/impact on the status quo (if they are meant to). I’d like to hear from our readers in France to provide some further context and enlighten the rest of us.
All that said, I’m a fan of Aïssa Maïga’s work, and Marc Zinga – who I wasn’t familiar with before I saw him in “May Allah Bless France!” – impressed me with his ability in that film, which was a drama. So he gets to flex his comedy muscle here. And I hope to see even more of them on screen, whether in French-produced films or elsewhere.
A trailer for “Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont” (“Welcome to Marly-Gomont”) follows below (although it’s without English subtitles, but the images are enough to tell you what’s going on). The film will open in France on June 8, 2016, via distribution company Mars Films.