For the month of September, Le Cinéma Club is honored to present a series of short films programmed in partnership with La Cinémathèque française and drawn from the legendary Parisian institution’s collections – one of the largest and most significant film archives in the world. These rare works, testimonies to the ingenuity and scope of French independent cinema from the ’60s to the late ’80s, were recently digitally restored with the Cinémathèque’s help and now screen in their online premieres.
Four years after the supposed failure of May ’68, the youth are still very much in revolt in “Albertine, or The Perfumed Memories of Marie-Rose”, a raucous, energetic short portrait of young women fighting for their sexual and reproductive freedoms. Through a deft blend of documentary and fiction and a collective approach to filmmaking, Jacques Kebadian presents a snapshot of an ongoing struggle while evoking the joy and excitement of one’s first taste of rebellion.
The film’s loose plot involves an adolescent girl named Albertine (Franssou Prenant) dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Despite the tough material, the tone is light-hearted and irreverent, with the children visibly enjoying their various social transgressions, whether shocking their parents at home, mocking their jailers while in police custody, or wresting control of the classroom from their teacher.
Kebadian is sure to connect these small acts of resistance to larger movements, filming his young actors in an on-the-street demonstration where women young and old come together and make their case for legalizing abortion. Far from a purely didactic work, Albertine is ultimately an affirmation of female pleasure and camaraderie – as much a challenge to the patriarchy as any explicit political stance.
“All the means to create a revolution were valuable or at least were complementary. We were making a movie in the afternoon, we were protesting while filming. To make a film was to make revolution, to make actions; like writing or creating a revolutionary newspaper (the journal Action) or making posters at the occupied Beaux Arts school.” JACQUES KEBADIAN
Jacques Kebadian studied film at IDHEC (now La Fémis) before serving as assistant director to Robert Bresson on Au hasard Balthazar (1966), Mouchette (1967) and Une femme douce (1969). His commitment to political filmmaking was clear from his first feature, Trotsky (1976), made in close collaboration with members of the JCR revolutionary organization, and in Albertine, credited to a collective named the Eugène Varlin Group, after one of the leaders of the Paris Commune. Born in Paris to first-generation Armenian immigrants, he would dedicate several films to the subject of the Armenian Genocide, and directed portraits of artists including the composer Michel Chion and filmmaker Sergei Parajanov. Les Révoltés : images et paroles de Mai 1968, his most recent work, was co-directed with Michel Andrieu and released in France in 2019.
The digitization of ‘Albertine’ was realized in 2K by the Cinémathèque de Toulouse in 2018, from a new print supervised by Jacques Kebadian and La Cinémathèque française. Special thanks to La Cinémathèque française and Jacques Kebadian for making this screening possible.
- Credits for
- Albertine, ou les souvenirs parfumés de Marie-Rose
- Franssou Prenant
- written by
- Jeannette Colombel & Jacques Kebadian