The struggle of wanting to fit in, the struggle of honoring your culture, and the struggle of becoming a citizen are all reflected in Le bleu blanc rouge de mes cheveux. A young girl living in France, Seyna, wants to become a French citizen, but her Cameroonian father has reservations about her decision. However, something unexpected might prevent her from going forward with her plans, as well. We interviewed director Josza Anjembe to get a firsthand look at the story.
What inspired this story?
It’s something that happened to me a few years ago when I had to make a new passport. I had an afro haircut at the time, and the person in charge at the city hall told me that I was “out of frame” when I took the picture.
How did you come up with the title?
I was thinking that I had to put a symbol of France in the title that would be linked to the metaphor of the hair. So in French it’s called “le bleu blanc rouge de mes cheveux”, which means ‘the blue white red of my hair”: blue, white, and red being the colors of the national flag. It’s my producer who suggested me the English title “French”. It’s short, striking, everything is said in only one word.
Can you explain the father’s opposition in-depth?
The father belongs to France’s first migrants generation. He had to fight and keep proving to everyone that he had values and skills, even though he was a stranger. But Amidou finally raised his family in France, it’s something that he was not expecting when he first arrived. So he is a man who wishes that his daughter won’t have to suffer from the same humiliations that he did because he was a foreigner, and a black man. The result is that the simple fact that his daughter wants to acquire the French citizenship is unbearable for him.
Without giving too much away, a haircut becomes an important plot point; did the actress have any reservations with it?
No, she was excited! She completely understood that it was about interpreting a character who wants to fight until she reaches her goals. She could have taken weight, or worked out and gained muscles, or learnt to swim or whatever. In the script it was shaving her hair. Grace Seri did it without any problems.
What was the symbolism of using the parents’ gift (the beauty care discount) for the haircut?
Seyna is able to overcome the fact that the gift comes from her family, in order to show how determinate she is. It’s some dramaturgy. The conflict between the protagonists happens because of this gift.
Tell us about your future projects.
I am currently writing both a short film and a feature film. The short film will talk about homosexuality in prison. About the feature film, I’m still trying to figure out the main subject but I have a few ideas!