When art does not depict real life

A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life

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1. Romy with a view

A fictionalised account of actress Romy Schneider has been slammed by her daughter, Sarah Biasini. 3 days in Quiberon depicts Schneider convalescing following a split from her husband in 1981. A journalist from German magazine Stern interviews her during her stay.

“The film contains multiple insinuations and innuendos that are totally misleading,” said Biasini, referring to the references to alcohol misuse. “She was just at a thalasso, not a detox centre. I want people to stop making money from lies.”

Vienna-born Schneider held French and German citizenship, and was one of Europe’s leading actresses, and remains a revered cinematic figure in France. She died in 1982 aged 43.

The Franco-Iranian director of 3 days in Quiberon, Emily Atef, said that while she used some parts of the Stern interview as source material, she wrote other aspects. “I needed that freedom from real events to reach the character’s truth,” she said in the film’s press release.

2. Oradour survivor’s notes published

The memoirs of a survivor of the Nazi massacre in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in Haute-Vienne have been published for the first time in full, after Mathieu Borie’s son gave his permission.

However, some have called the stonemason’s testimony – written in school notebooks a few weeks after he escaped from a firebombed building – ‘questionable’, with the village’s former mayor, Raymond Frugier, refusing to write the book’s preface. He believes some of the diary notes, including the assertion that the village was hiding resistance fighters, cannot be confirmed without further hard evidence.

Only six people escaped the razing of the village on June 10 1944, when 642 villages and passers by were executed. Das Reich soldiers were said to be looking for a Nazi believed captured by local resistance forces.

The extraordinary village has remained just as it was left that day, as a memorial to the murdered.

3. Bretons not amused by reappearance of Bécassine

When a new family-friendly film called Bécassine came out at the end of June, there was one region of France where it was not especially welcomed: Brittany. The reason? The titular character, from an early 20th century comic strip, is a Breton housemaid depicted as simple-minded and backward.

In the film, she heads to Paris and is the butt of many jokes and much ridicule – in one scene, she is not even able to use a telephone.

One Breton independence group called for film-goers to boycott the comedy, saying the film was ‘an insult to all Breton women’. “We are not asking for the film to be banned, but we are calling on the whole of Brittany society to boycott it so that Parisian producers can think about it next time,” said Ewan Thébaud from Dispac’h, a collective that is “independentist, anti-capitalist, feminist, ecologist and internationalist”.

Although Bécassine was one of the first ever female protagonists in BD (bande dessinnée) she did not even have a mouth. She is still widely available in doll form and featured on an official La Poste stamp in 2005, marking the centenary since her first appearance in the girl’s magazine La Semaine de Suzette.