“Wanasa”, the sons of Kaweeney, the heroes of the film closest to their history

It is still difficult to talk about certain topics in Matthew, without being able to face blame or criticism. Marie Dubois and Remy Mazett bet they believed that “the Kaweni story” could simply be told through the eyes of the children who live there. The unconventional documentary approach, sometimes leaving us in a form of fiction, takes the viewer to a corner of our island, often riven by violent or dystopian news. It is the encounter with these themes that emerges from the highly moving feature film. Like choosing a new part, it was necessary to show it to the population and much more, to the whole of France.

“We take a look at what’s going on here, but that’s just our view and our point of view. The idea is to tell a story. Kaweni is a complicated place, which we love so much. We also don’t want to say it’s all too complicated, because that’s not the reality. So, it was We have to make a thought-provoking film,” says Marie Dubois, after the film’s premiere at the Lycée des Lumières.

By setting foot in Kaweni, the two directors never imagined such a confrontation, making the year’s filming over a three hundred hour rush (the initial photos were taken). The richness of the stories and experiences of each of these children leads us, as spectators, to take ourselves as in the tale, to the introductory story of these heroes of today and tomorrow.

The directors present the film, accompanied by their heroes, on the stage of the Lycée Lumière amphitheater

The school of life

In the beginning there is this CM2. That Mr. Saindou Moudjibou, the school’s teacher that all students dream of, said Principal Remy Mazet so well. By his theatrical method, the teacher lends himself to the “role” game of imparting knowledge. Always wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, red or black tie, and pants with a belt, he could go from a very serious look to a very expressive smile, his teachings are super typical. Through lessons in English and the history of colonization and slavery, he accompanies students toward awareness, which will come to fruition through a performance of a play, at the end of a wealthy year before entering college. Throughout the year, the goal will remain the same, which will keep the children forever.

Even if sometimes, behind the highs, there will be lows, it will be necessary to pass. We cannot but dwell on these sequences, by invitation via letter addressed to Emmanuel Macron. Mail to which he will respond personally, but remembers the time he lacks and the impossibility of responding favorably to meeting children. One cannot help but think of this enduring feeling, which leads one to believe that overseas territories and provinces are not a priority of politicians. It remains only to hope that this film will reach the Elysee and be able to change the opinion of the president. Causing the possibility of a meeting in Kaweni. The children accepted this failure through which they would grow up thanks to the accomplishment of their cultural project.

The film is built from this educational part that leads children to think about the world. Theirs. The one they vibrate and meddle in when they’re adults. But through this chosen axis, intimate and sensitive, we notice the semi-autonomousness of these girls and boys, who live an everyday life that is not always clear, but finds in it a path to the meaning of their existence. Living in Mayotte, on an island, in French history, but also in the Mozambique Channel, and in the expectation of a future somewhere else, beyond the ocean that surrounds them.

Kaweni . kids

Saindou Moudjibou, the teacher of T12 Primary School in Kaweni, and one of the protagonists of the film

“We told ourselves that the best way to tell Kaweni differently was probably from a child’s perspective. This movie would not have been possible without the input of the children and families who agreed to participate in this game,” explains Marie Dubois.

By setting up their cameras in France’s largest slum, Marie Dubois and Remy Mazet chose a certain neutrality. They simply took the time to live and depict the daily life of Kaweeney’s childhood. With the help of a few locals, including Mister Mariaux, they manage to fertilize a fact from the life of this often forgotten “young Frenchman”.

Even more surprising is the fact that emerges from it. Like professional actors, most participants play the game of forgetting to shoot, mostly ignoring the camera, boom microphones, and their directors. All this allows for great spontaneity and ease in the environment. Children naturally show their joys, their sadness, and even their anger. They hide nothing about their first love, their family relationships with their brothers and sisters, but also with their parents who can no longer wait to survive on a daily basis. Life in the Pangas remains a constraint which the Mahāori seek to get rid of.

By capturing minute moments, filmmakers sometimes allow us to spot these kids broadcasting on the beaches or in the woods that surrounds their neighborhood; He often watches the horizon, from a high point. What will you make tomorrow? It seems to be the question asked in the face of times of silence or hum.

Mayotte, France, the cradle of multiculturalism

The Kaweni children are often portrayed here as the future. They take a fair look at the world, France, freedom, equality and brotherhood. Demonstrate the place of secularism in our “great” multicultural nation most of the time, by learning from them. Hence the eternal richness of being bilingual, sometimes in three languages: the French School of National Education, the daily life of Shimauri, and the Koranic school in traditional Arabic.

Rather, it is demonstrated in a very sober way by a short sequence, the great compatibility between Islam and the Republic. Unfortunately, the subject of abuse in recent years. But Mayotte, with its large Muslim majority, proves that living with respect for the traditions of the other is also a much greater opening to the world. It is interesting to rediscover it through children’s eyes, which makes this culture extra baggage.

Several upcoming shows

The movie continues on its way

The life of the film is often uncertain, but Wanasa’s life is promising. Saturday 23 April and Monday 25 April 2022, two shows are scheduled at 10 am at the Lycée des Lumières amphitheater. The film and its cast will be hosted by Pôle Culturel de Chirongui on Wednesday 27 April at 8pm.

The shows are free and open to all, all you have to do is book the first French screening in the auditorium of the Film School, FEMIS in Paris, on May 10, 2022. The feature film then takes the road to the festivals, before its official broadcast on France TV at the end of the year.

It’s only the beginning, but we hope this crazy story between Kaweni and this movie doesn’t end there. Once again, a technical promise to our much-needed island!

Germaine Le Carpenter

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