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Mambar Pierrette

Mambar Pierrette

Rosine Mbakam · 2023 · 92 minutes
November 12 · Regal Riviera · 3:20 p.m.

Pierrette is a single mother in Douala, Cameroon, where the beginning of the school year brings more work for her small business as a seamstress, along with mounting expenses. As flooding rains and other misfortunes gather around her, Pierrette carries on as best as she can, laughing and commiserating with her neighbors.

The director of four acclaimed feature documentaries and several shorts, Rosine Mbakam is making her debut as a narrative filmmaker with Mambar Pierrette. In her 2018 documentary, The Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman (also screening at FILM FEST KNOX), Mbakam returns to Cameroon from Belgium, where she now lives and works, in order to introduce her extended family to her young son. That film, which is a sharp and intimate reckoning with her split consciousness as an emigrant, is a preview of sorts for Mambar Pierrette, which stars Mbakam’s cousin and is likewise an empathetic portrait of the women in her life.

There’s a long, and occasionally problematic, tradition of art-house films that look at third-world communities from an anthropological distance. Mambar Pierrette is not that. “The primary thing that brought me to film was the lack of images of my country, the lack of seeing myself on-screen,” Mbakam has said. Like Agnès Varda before her, Mbakam is making wise and powerfully humanistic work that is grounded in the specificity of her experience.

Mambar Pierrette premiered in the 2023 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and had its US premiere at the New York Film Festival.

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