Date Showing Showing On 16, 18, 19 September
Time Showing Monday 6pm, Wednesday 4pm and Thursday 6pm


PG 1hrs 54mins
drama | 2023, France | French

’95–’96, year of high school. Only 17 years old, Zahia Ziouni becomes aware that her dream of becoming a conductor and her ambition to make symphonic music accessible to all and in all territories, will go through the creation of an orchestra unique in its diversity and composition. Helped by her twin sister Fettouma, a cellist, and while she was about to conduct her very first concert, she created the Divertimento orchestra. The latter still exists and, at 44 years old, Zahia is now a conductor recognized worldwide.


Mild themes

Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
Original Review
Sophie Terakes, FilmInk
Extracted By
Gail Bendall
Oulaya Amamra, Lina El Arabi, Niels Arestrup

Watch The Trailer

Divertimento (2023) - Trailer (English Subs)

Storyline (warning: spoilers)

Early in Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar’s film, Divertimento, revered maestro Sergiu Celibidache (Niels Arestrup) explains that the role of the conductor is to provide the orchestra with “energy” and emotion. “Without a conductor,” he says, “there’s no transcendence.” The biopic tells the true story of prodigiously talented, seventeen-year-old French twins Fettouma (Lina El Arabi), an accomplished cellist, and Zahia (Oulaya Amamra), an aspiring conductor. Raised in Stains (a low-rise, working-class suburb), the film follows the girls during their senior year of high school at prestigious Parisian conservatorium, Lycée Racine, in 1995.
The film elegantly conveys the way in which music enables the twins to translate their emotions into art, each of their successes and setbacks inspiring a new melodic interlude. For example, soon after the school principal rescinds Zahia’s conducting privileges because she is “a woman,” a closeup shows her on the train, gazing into the distance. Seething with silent rage, Zahia waves her hands, conducting the imaginary orchestra playing in her mind. Her fingers graze the air with controlled precision while her brow is furrowed in concentration, channelling her frustration into a magnificent, sweeping symphony. Yet, Zahia takes pleasure in hard-won victories and channels her joy into the music, too. Her first rehearsal with Divertimento (the socioeconomically-diverse orchestra that the twins found) is infused with triumphant delight, a wide-shot showing her in full flight as the music happily soars.
As these scenes attest, Amamra gives an emotionally layered, dynamic performance in Zahia’s relentless dedication to her goals, but Amamra also imbues her character with great warmth. As she conducts, Amamra often widens her eyes and offers a faint smile, diffusing Zahia’s intensity with a subtle softness. Divertimento is an undeniably heartfelt, albeit cheesy, film. It relies heavily on familiar aphorisms (such as “music… can change people”) and culminates in a rather saccharine display of unity, but it wears these limitations with a loveable innocence.

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