A Compelling Debut: Rosine Mbakam’s ‘Mambar Pierrette’ Shines at Cannes


Rosine Mbakam’s directorial debut, “Mambar Pierrette,” has captivated audiences at the Cannes Film Festival with its compelling portrayal of everyday life in Douala, Cameroon. The film showcases resilience and unity against a backdrop of social and political instability. Mbakam’s background is reflected in this drama, as she depicts the story of her cousin, Mambar, a single mother and seamstress, facing the challenges of post-colonial Cameroon.

A Story of Strength and Empowerment

Having completed four documentary projects in Belgium, Mbakam made a significant return to her homeland, Cameroon. The script was crafted through discussions with her family and friends. Mbakam’s previous documentaries, including “The Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman” and “Chez jolie coiffure” had a limited release in the United States. With her first journey into the realm of drama, Mbakam aspires to provide an authentic depiction of the lives of women from her generation in Cameroon.

At the heart of the film is the remarkable performance of non-professional actor Pierrette Aboheu Njeuthat, who portrays Mambar with quiet stoicism. Mambar is not only a single mother struggling to make ends meet, but also the voice of her generation, determined to break free from patriarchal oppression. She forges her own path without relying on financial support from a man, taking on the responsibility of raising her children, caring for her elderly mother, and managing her own business.

The film centers around the start of the school year, as Mambar strives to earn enough money sewing school uniforms to provide for her children’s education. Despite all challenges, Mambar retains her steadfastness and love of life, living by her own mantra: “Life is hard, and you have to keep going.”

The film highlights the sense of community. “Mambar Pierrette” not only showcases the resilience of one woman but also offers a poignant reflection on the lives of women in Cameroon’s post-colonial society. With its engaging storytelling, compelling performances, and Mbakam’s deft direction, the film has received accolades at Cannes.