In theaters since Wednesday, “Annie Colère” is a story of emancipation carried by Laure Calamy who looks back on the actions of the MLAC (Movement for the freedom of abortion and contraception).
Annie Anger by Blandine Lenoir
With Laure Calamy, Zita Hanrot, India Hair…
What is it about ? February 1974. Because she finds herself accidentally pregnant, Annie, a worker and mother of two children, meets the MLAC – Movement for Abortion and Contraception Freedom, which practices illegal abortions in the eyes of all. Welcomed by this unique movement, based on concrete help for women and the sharing of knowledge, she will find in the battle for the adoption of the law on abortion a new meaning in her life.
A tribute to Delphine Seyrig
We see in the film a television archive of an intervention by actress Delphine Seyrig where she debates abortion in front of men. The director chose to use this video for several reasons. First of all to inscribe in the time of the film (which takes place over a year) the historical time, to recall that abortion was a subject which was spoken about daily in the media.
It was also a question of paying homage to Seyrig, for his films and his decisive role in the struggle. It was at her place, Place des Vosges, that the first demonstration in France of the suction method, known as “Karman”, took place in 1972.
This acronym designates the Abortion and Contraception Freedom Movement. It was founded in 1973 by activist doctors and feminists, in response to the hundreds of deaths caused by clandestine abortions. At that time, the main methods of contraception remained withdrawal and Ogino (period of sexual abstinence during the woman’s fertile period). The MLAC demanded the dissemination of sexual information, freedom of contraception and abortion.
Going against the law, the volunteers performed for nearly 18 months throughout France abortions using the Karman method, which consists of aspirating the contents of the uterus using a cannula. The association also organized trips to abort abroad for those who had exceeded 8 weeks of pregnancy. Faced with the magnitude of the movement, the government had no choice but to pass the law for the legalization of abortion in 1975.
A forgotten movement
With Annie Colère, Blandine Lenoir wanted to highlight the history of the MLAC, the existence of which she only discovered about ten years ago. “The MLAC contributed decisively to changing the law on abortion, but it was made invisible. We learn the national romance with the “great men”, in this case a “great woman”: everyone knows the heroic fight of Simone Veil, but we have forgotten the activists who pushed Giscard d’Estaing to change the law.”
There are French documentaries on abortion such as Look, she has eyes wide open, which is a collective work by members of the MLAC in Aix with Yann Le Masson, and Histoires d’A by Charles Belmont and Marielle Issartel, an activist for the liberalization of abortion and contraception. But the functioning of the movement and its history had not been put into images.
The director says: “The historical narrative is a balance of power, there is a missing narrative, a narrative to be renewed. The history of the MLAC is part of the political history of France. With this film, I want to give thanks to these women who fought for our freedom, remember that the laws are fought hard!”
Blandine Lenoir immediately thought of Laure Calamy to play Annie Colère. She has known her for about ten years and directed her in her two previous films, Zouzou and Aurore.
“There is something about her that is as extraordinary as it is ordinary – I wanted her to be Everybody, someone you can identify with very easily. Laure is a great actress of emotion and we do not didn’t see that much in that score. And then, she’s an actress who has a body – that is to say, she has a body that exists, energetic, round and sensual, and she doesn’t not afraid to use it, to play with it. Laure is fascinating.”
The former members of the MLAC taught Blandine Lenoir very precisely all the gestures of the Karman method. The cast also repeated these gestures to reproduce them during filming.
She details: “We had a system, a small mattress that was installed under the buttocks of the actresses with a hole in which we introduced cannulas, candles, etc. It was very impressive, very realistic. Thus, the abortion was staged throughout its duration, the actresses very busy with their precise, concentrated gestures, which they ended up knowing perfectly.”
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