© Kool/Filmagentinnen

Triff die Elisabeths! (Meet the Elisabeths, La Première étoile)
France 2009

Opening 31 Dec 2009

Directed by: Lucien Jean-Baptiste
Writing credits: Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
Principal actors: Firmine Richard, Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Anne Consigny, Jimmy Woha, Ludovic François

The Elisabeth family is made up of Jean-Gabriel (a dark-skinned man from the Caribbean), his French wife Suzy, a teenaged son, a young daughter and a small son. Normally, an irresponsible, expansively jolly man who dislikes his job and would rather place bets, Jean-Gabriel must put his non-existent money where his mouth is and take the whole family skiing as promised. His wife refuses to go along; she deems this decision final proof of his recklessness. His mother – also jolly and dark skinned – agrees to go to the ski resort if she “doesn’t have to cook.” As this is a comedy, you can imagine the disturbances and problems along the way. Once there, they must deal with the landlord who expects rent money, board a ski lift, and sort out teenaged bullies. When it gets down to it, they must also learn to ski, not an easy sport for anyone, regardless of age or background. There are several comments about the inappropriateness of “black people in white snow.”

This film is light-hearted and shows human frailty which we have all experienced. There is a positive message about dependability, intercultural friendship, and maturity. Director Lucien Jean-Baptiste, who immigrated from the Antilles to France in the ‘60s, drew on real episodes from his own life. He not only directed, but played the lead, Jean-Gabriel, and wrote much of the script. The film was hugely successful in France, its country of origin. It also won the 2009 Filmfest Hamburg Audience Prize out of seven contestants, all of which had been exceptionally successful in their respective European countries. (Becky Tan)

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