PASCALE OBOLO: THE VISIBLE WOMAN
Pascale Obolo reflects on her personal experience of invisibility in French society by invoking the American film and TV episode “The Invisible Man”, whose character transforms himself at will. However, the feelings that she describes in her film, The Invisible Woman, may be likened to the American novel, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, an African American. The story is narrated by an unnamed black man who contemplates on his social invisibility in a dominant white society. Or perhaps Pascale Obolo’s sense of invisibility may conjure up Black Skin White Masks by the Martinican Frantz Fanon, as she feels the weight of otherness when living outside of her own world.
The film was presented at the 32nd International Women’s Film Festival, the 2 to 11 April 2010.
Interview by Festimage with Pascale Obolo discussing her film "La Femme invisible/The Invisible Woman" (2008) with actor Dalande Gomis presented at the 32nd International Women’s Film Festival, 2 to 11 April 2010.
05:31 – 11:28
Translation from French by Beti Ellerson
Her short film reveals her engagement as a woman in a modern society.
Pascale is a filmmaker who does not leave one indifferent.
She has come to our studio with her actor Dalande Gomis.
I wanted to do an artistic piece
and tie it to the issue of the representation of women
in society in general, and the idea of the film began from there.
I did it as a kind of experimental cinema.
It is a visual philosophical story
It is a work based on framing and the superimposed image.
At the beginning the film the image is framed in a manner that does not allow one to see the woman’s face.
In the first scene, she is about to use the telephone.
There are three superimposed images.
Initially, she is in the telephone booth
and then, the trees from the other side appear superimposed on the glass of the telephone booth
and from behind, the building becomes visible and the protagonist is in the middle.
One after the other, all of the images are superimposed on each other.
Hence, she is already lost in the landscape, lost in the frame, and the film begins in this manner.
Next, there is a shot of her feet as she moves in space
showing her invisibility in French society.
I think that for an actor what is important is to bring out an emotion
and the emotion is not defined by race. Emotion is something that touches our heart.
And when you come to a casting call, you must be given the chance to express yourself
to be able to bring out these things—sadness, joy…
As a director, I think that the most important thing is that an actor reveals emotion.
that the audience is touched, and that is why we enter into the film.
Precisely, that is what I live as an actor who comes from a minority ethnicity—we have to really look for roles.
Even during a casting call we are told right away “you do not match this role”.
It hurts, but we live with it.
Thank goodness I have known Pascale for a longtime, and as soon as she has a project
I am part of it, especially this one, which concerns me directly.
When there is a feature or short film that is meant to represent French society
as it actually is, with a population that has evolved, that has changed a great deal
and which is enriched by its immigration history, there is hesitation.
It is for this reason that I have set the year 2055 to arrive at this goal.
To move things,
I think that things move too slowly.
And yet, France has a history with Africa that dates back to the slave trade era.
And when we see what is happening in French society in 2010, we notice a real problem.
There have been several films with a black president
as if the films had anticipated the election in 2009 of a black president of the most powerful country in the world.
That is the force of cinema, the power to project forward.
There is opposition to a quota system in cinema because people say
it is not needed
that French society is not racist
and a quota system is not necessary.
Why then aren’t there more films
where there is a mixture of black and white actors
who act together in important roles without clichés such as the immigrant neighborhoods, the dealers, and housekeepers.
The Invisible Woman (voiceover from film excerpt)
I am an invisible woman
I am from a visible minority
I remember the American television series called “The Invisible Man”.
I liked this series a lot because I could transform myself into any human being
taking the place of another
How wonderful it was!
I was far from imagining that I would find myself invisible in Western society.
What was a dream when I was a child became a nightmare as an adult.