CINEMA: French classic brings film season to an end

THE 2010/2011 season of the Eastbourne film Society comes to an end on March 16, when the film to be shown, with seats available for the general public, is the French film Séraphine.

This film won no less than seven Césars, those being the awards which are France’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Those bestowed on Séraphine included Best Film and Best Original Screenplay, but the award most welcomed was that of Best Actress for Yolande Moreau.

This actress, often a supporting player, found the role of a lifetime and one totally removed from the glamour and chic associated with certain French movies.

Martin Provost’s film tells the real-life story of Séraphine Louis an established but eccentric figure in the small town of Senlis where she worked as a maid and cleaner.

But what distinguished this uneducated woman was her skill as a painter.

She was already in her forties when a German art critic, Wilhelm Uhde, visited Senlis and discovered in Séraphine a talented artist whose work excited him.

But the timing was unfortunate both because Uhde’s taste for ‘primitive’ painters was not then widely shared and because his recognition of her worth came in 1912 and the start of the First World War prevented him as a German from promoting her work as he wished.

But that was not the end of the story. The resolute, independent Séraphine kept on painting regardless and years later Uhde would come back into her life.

As events unfolded Séraphine’s story became one involving both triumph and tragedy.