Take a traditional Jewish funeral whose rituals no one can quite recall. Mix in a Yiddishkeit setting in a predominantly Sephardic Jewish community. Add one of the most beautiful cities in the world as your location, and top it off with a terrific ensemble cast. What you get in the assured hands of director Idit Cébula (Two Lives Plus One, SFJFF 2008), is the charmingly poignant French film Rue Mandar. For elder brother Charles, sister Rosemonde (Emmanuelle Devos, The Other Son, SFJFF 2012 Centerpiece) and youngest sibling Emma, their widowed mother’s funeral marks the end of an era. Brought together after years of separation, they are soon squabbling about religious tradition, each other and what to do with their parents’ apartment at 13 rue Mandar. Unsure of whether to sell the apartment, they each express grief in the quirkiest of ways. Charles summons a crew of Polish workers to redecorate his own apartment without consulting his long-suffering wife. Psychoanalyst Rosemonde barely pays attention during patient sessions as she obsesses over her faltering marriage and her son, who is now studying in New York. Scatterbrained Emma, a Tel Aviv translator, ends up efficiently cleaning out her mother’s apartment. Her ”mourning special” giveaway of its contents on the Paris sidewalk below, leads to a chance encounter with Simon, the son of previous owners of the flat. Director and actor Idit Cébula appears in only a cameo role. But her film reminds us that the messy, sometimes humorous and often bittersweet business of death can lead to new beginnings.
Best 2008 Festival: Director, France
Idit Cebula was born in Paris to Jewish parents from Poland and started acting in high school when she integrated the theater club. A mother since her early twenties, she entered the prestigious acting school Cours Florent in 1985, where she met some of her good friends who would act in her films later on (Academy Award winner Emmanuelle Devos, Academy Award nominee Lionel Abelanski, ...). As she was acting in theater, films, television and commercials, Idit observed the different set-ups with a particular focus on the director's role. In the mid 1990's she decided to write her first screenplay with photographer Céline Nieszwaer and, in 1998, directed the 20 minute-long "A Table!", which was awarded in the Festival de Cannes that same year and toured in festivals around the globe. The same characters, played by the same cast, would be found in her second short, the 30-minute long "Varsovie-Paris" (2002). In 2006 Idit eventually directed her first feature film, "Deux Vies Plus Une" which has already been awarded for Best Comedy Screenplay (Raimu, Dec. 2007) and Best Director (Oct. 2007). Idit is currently working with two other screenwriters on a comedy involving seven kids and all of their step parents. She will direct this new movie in the Fall 2008.