A Capra-esque tale (complete with a Christmas setting) about a soon-to-be-orphaned adolescent seeking an audience with the icon she's chosen to be her adoptive mother, writer/director Maïmouna Doucouré's (CUTIES) sophomore feature dismantles boundaries of status and decorum and celebrates the power of self-determination. A 15-year-old girl with a blonde afro, Coke-bottle glasses and an innate disregard for social niceties, Hawa (Sania Halifa) is not a typical Parisian teen. Maminata (famed Malian singer Oumou Sangaré), her grandmother and sole guardian, is terminally ill and has yet to secure a new family for her granddaughter. Luckily, Hawa has come up with a perfect solution to their problem. Michelle Obama is visiting Paris and has stated publicly that she misses her daughters, who are now adults and have moved out. Clearly, the former first lady should adopt Hawa. Hawa simply needs to let her know. Over the course of the film, the fearless and determined Hawa ambushes entourages and security details in a concert hall, an embassy, a hospital and an airport, befriending unexpected celebrities along the way — singer-songwriter YSEULT among them — who recognize a fierce spirit in this scooter-riding stalker. But Hawa only has eyes for Obama. Doucouré subtly alternates between seeing events through Hawa's inner world and directing a thoughtful gaze on a young woman's audacious quest for home and belonging. (Note adapted from the Toronto International Film Festival.) DIR/SCR Maïmouna Doucouré; SCR Alain-Michel Blanc, David Elkaïm; SCR/PROD Zangro. France, 2022, color, 104 min. In French and Bambara with English subtitles. NOT RATED; recommended for ages 10+
No AFI Member passes accepted.
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