Cannes Critics’ Week opener Àma Gloria to be released by the BFI in UK and Ireland on 7 June

Àma Gloria is based on director Marie Amachoukeli’s own childhood experience of being looked after by a Portuguese woman who worked in her apartment building.

28 February 2024

Àma Gloria (2023)

Acquired after its world premiere as the opening film of Cannes Critics’ Week 2023, and following its UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, the captivating French feature Àma Gloria (2023) directed by Marie Amachoukeli, will be released by BFI Distribution in UK and Ireland cinemas on 7 June 2024. A Lilies Films production, it is produced by Céline Sciamma’s regular producer Bénédicte Couvreur (Petite maman, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Girlhood). The film was a big hit with audiences in France, quickly expanding on its initial cinema run. Following the UK theatrical release it will be available on BFI Player as a subscription exclusive from 22 July 2024.

Six-year-old Cléo (an exceptional performance by six-year-old Louise Mauroy-Panzani) loves her nanny Gloria (Ilça Moreno Zego) more than anything. When Gloria suddenly has to return home to Cape Verde to look after her own children, Cléo makes her promise that they will see each other again very soon. Gloria invites Cléo to visit her and so the two have to make the most of their last summer together. Cléo finds Gloria’s young son César resents her being close to his mother, but this spirited, brave little girl with a megawatt smile is determined to fit in, whatever it takes. Consequently she begins to learn about growing up and becoming more independent.

Àma Gloria is based on Amachoukeli’s own childhood experience of being looked after by a Portuguese woman who worked in her apartment building. When the woman had to return home it was a major shock. They are still very close, prompting the director’s interest in examining the intimate relationship and deep love that can exist in both directions between a child and her nanny or carer; usually not acknowledged, perhaps somewhat taboo. 

The story is told from the perspective of Cléo, to show her intense feelings and how she handles these big changes in her life. Amachoukeli also wanted to explore the experience of economic migrants, particular women who have to leave their own children in order to work, and the unbalanced relationship that the legacy of colonialism brings.

Louise Mauroy-Panzani (Cléo) was discovered by chance, spotted in a park bossing her brother. Ilça Moreno Zego (Gloria), who worked as a nurse in Cape Verde and had previously looked after children in France, had much in common with her character and elements of her own experiences helped shape the script.

A rising filmmaking talent, also skilled in animation, Amachoukeli won the Camera d’Or at Cannes for her first feature Party Girl (2014), co-directed by Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, which opened Un Certain Regard that year and had two César nominations. Her animated short I Want Pluto to be a Planet Again (2016), co-directed with Vladimir Mavounia-Kouka, won a César nomination in 2017. 

Segments of animation expressing Cléo’s emotions, which took a year to produce, beautifully enhance Àma Gloria, Amachoukeli’s solo debut as director. In 2020, as part of the Cannes Critics’ Week’s Next Step programme, she worked with British director Molly Manning Walker on the development of How to Have Sex. Àma Gloria has been nominated for awards at film festivals including Zurich, Brussels and Thessaloniki. It screened in the Dublin Film Festival in February.