After Girlhood (“Bande de filles”)did so in 2017, it was Aya of Yop City’sturn to receive the Prix des jeunes cinéphiles francophones. The animated film was nominated alongside 7 other recent feature films: Tamara (2016), Memories (“Les Souvenirs”, 2015), The Boss’s Daughter (“La fille du patron", 2015), Corniche Kennedy (2016), Good Luck Algeria (2016), Max and Lenny (2013) and Swagger (2016).
In preparation for the prize, Colombian, Brazilian and Beninese cinephiles were able to meet, via video conference, Dominique Cabrera, director of Corniche Kennedy and Olivier Babinet, to discuss Swagger.
Memory(ies) from elswhere
The story of Aya of Yop City is rooted in the childhood memories of its author, Marguerite Abouet. The writer lived in Yopougon, a vast working-class neighbourhood on the outskirts of Abidjan, until the age of 12. The images, sounds and smells of "Yop City," as it was affectionately known to its inhabitants, filled the six volumes of the comic book, published between 2005 and 2010, and then its cinema adaptation in 2013.
The central character of this narrative is as much Aya, a rather serious girl aspiring to become a doctor, as it is Yopougon, a cosmopolitan city where the wealthy and the poor mingle in joyful disorder. This is where Aya and her friends Adjoua and Bintou grow up and learn to love to the rhythm of the intoxicating evenings where they “gazent” (read: cruise) boys. Everything becomes more complicated when Adjoua falls pregnant by the son of one of the country’s richest men.
Between a soap opera and a social comedy: a winning blend
As Marguerite Abouet and cartoonist Clément Oubrerie, the two authors of the comic book, also worked on the film, Aya of Yop City remains very true to the adventures on paper. Readers will find all the ingredients that made the series so successful: vibrant colours, the flowery speech of the characters and careful attention to the smallest graphic details.
Through Aya’s romantic wanderings and her gang of friends, the upheavals of a country in transition also take shape. Thanks to the realistic style of animation, the teenage soap circling the love lives of three girls takes on the style of a social comedy, evoking universal themes such as the women’s emancipation and the weight of social conventions. All of these themes, expressed with humour and sensitivity, appealed to the emerging cinephiles brought together by the Institut français. They are eagerly awaiting the 3rd edition, scheduled for autumn 2018.
Aya of Yop City is distributed internationally by the Institut français.
The film received the 2018 Prix des jeunes cinéphiles francophones, organised by the Institut français to promote the French language through an unusual medium: cinema.
The Institut français offers a catalogue of over 2,500 titles, enabling the French cultural network and its partners to screen French films around the world.
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