Karembeu was a hit!

The preview of the film retracing Christian Karembeu’s past before he left New Caledonia for mainland France, “Kanak, l’histoire oubliée,” (Kanak, the Forgotten Story) was a hit on Saturday evening at the Maison de la culture’s Grand Theatre.

Even technical problems would not have dampened the enthusiasm of the packed audience who had come to view this part of the champion’s past, which until now had remained confidential, and above all to meet him. Luckily, the faulty Blue Ray player was quickly replaced, a hitch which allowed Wallès Kotra to spend time with Christian Karembeu, already moved to be on the point of finally viewing his film in its entirety. The screening of the short film “Ebony Society,” the main favourite, awarded at the 10th FIFO, also put a smile on the faces of the audience whilst waiting.

Once the Endemol production was en route, the mood changed: “Kanak, l’histoire oubliée” retraces Christian Karembeu’s life as a teenager questioning his roots, the value of history, the importance of education and the strength of violence which arises on his homeland. A homeland that he had trouble leaving to claim his success elsewhere, in a world that he would have envisaged better if it had not greeted his ancestors in such a barbaric way, ancestors who preferred to keep the experience of the Colonial Exhibition of  1931 in Paris quiet to maintain peace on their island.

Against a background of tragic events in Ouvea and obvious political tension across all ranks of society and all communities, the young Christian experiences violence in the streets of Noumea, watching students killed by security forces, Caledonians by birth chased by young hotheads unable to distinguish between good and bad.

One might have feared a mellifluous production with half-hearted involvement and a scenario bringing a piece of history to the forefront to in fact praise a mediatised world champion. Luckily, that has not happened. The film provides us with very intimate filming, a coherent scenario which, according to the sportsman, preserved the essential of his story without jeopardising the most important passages, and quality actors, the leading role played by Yaël Mayat, who won the prize for the best newcomer actor at the International Film and Television Festival in Luchon.

The champion, who quickly found his place in mainland France, popular with his clubs for his talented kick, says “the lesson or the intervention of history” has always caught up with him; he did not hide his emotion at the end of the screening.

This film, a legacy of “real history,” is in line with a critical period which highlights, against the backdrop of socio-political tension, a resurgence of the Matignon Agreement, which is holding a self-determination referendum between 2014 and 2018. One can only hope that current generations have, or will quickly, learn from the past.