A Jewish student in Occupied Paris, the young woman was deported after being denounced by her future parents-in-law. an iconic tragic fate at the heart of a vibrant TV movie. To never forget.
Of Annette Zelman and her fiancé, Jean Jausion, World War II historian Henri Amouroux said they had been “the Romeo and Juliet of the Occupation”. In 1978, in Le Mémorial de la déportation des Juifs de France, Serge Klarsfeld dedicated an unusual short commentary to the Fine Arts student, in the litany of the 76,000 names he honored: “In convoy number 3, a 20-year-old French girl left, guilty not only of being Jewish, but of daring to love and be loved by a non-Jewish Frenchman. » Annette Zelman was indeed denounced by her future parents-in-law from the Parisian bourgeoisie.
This tragic fate, emblematic of ordinary denunciation and the anti-Semitic prejudices of a certain elite, is at the heart of the modest and vibrant television film. The Story of Annette Zelman. France 2 the program on the eve of the International Day dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Based on the work of historian Laurent Joly, author of the book Denounce the Jews under the Occupationthis fiction is intended “a hymn to love crushed by obscurantism»points out its director, Philippe Le Guay.
The director of The Cellar Man, which already addressed the trivialization of anti-Semitism, briefly opens its story in the spring of 1942 on Annette in the hands of the French police assisted by the Gestapo. But it’s the better to lead the viewer to the roots of this carefree love at first sight at the Café de Flore between an apprentice designer and an aspiring writer. Annette and Jean, who have the insolent youth of Ilona Bachelier and Vassili Schneider, laugh, dance, play around with the curfew. They want to live.
It doesn’t matter that Annette’s parents, tailors by trade, are worried about this romantic who refuses to hide with them in Limousin. It does not matter that those of Jean, supporters of Vichy, camped by an icy Julie Gayet and a stiff Laurent Lucas, do not hide their racism and their disapproval in the face of a union which would tarnish their social ascent. Encouraged by his wife, Hubert Jausion, a renowned dermatologist, reports Annette to the Prefecture. When he understands the seriousness of his gesture and tries to go back, it is too late. “Annette was taken on the first convoy of women to Auschwitz. It is emblematic of these cases of denunciation where there is a discrepancy between the desire for personal revenge and the consequences out of proportion. The denunciation concerned all circles, including the most privileged “deciphers Laurent Joly.
Despite the constraints of a 90-minute, which does not allow you to stay as long as desired at the bedside of the characters, Philippe Le Guay does not bury his lovers in an atmosphere that is too solemn. He leaves them flesh and blood, whole beings sinning through naivety. The filmmaker flirts with fantasy. The figure of Annette and that of her sister, Michèle, merge in a moving wedding scene. The youngest of Annette, now in her nineties, even appears on the screen in front of her interpreter. It must be said that the fate of the Zelmans and the Jausion continued to intertwine at the Liberation in an improbable if not cruel game of chance.
Laurent Joly hopes that this portrait will reach a young audience: “Soon the witnesses of the Holocaust will no longer be there. Annette Zelman is a personality who weaves a link between recent generations and what happened in 1942. We feel today that a return to the past, that lies, falsifications are possible. » And to plead: “From documentary to fiction, it is important to multiply the tools of transmission, and to fight this growing ignorance. »