French Film: Divertimento




Divertimento is an inspiring true story, about renowned conductor Zahia Ziouani and her sister Fettouma who created their own symphony orchestra to make music accessible to everyone.

Encouraged by her Algerian immigrant parents,  Zahia (beautifully played by Oulaya Amamra) a 17-year-old violinist, is determined to be an orchestral conductor. Her sister Fettouma (Lina El Arabi) plays the cello.



The film is set in the mid 90s, when the sisters live in Stains, a working class Parisian suburb, and commute to Paris each day to study music at the Lycee Racine. Here, they are ridiculed by rich and privileged students.

Maestro Sergiu Celibidache (Niels Arestrup) sees Zahia’s potential as a conductor and invites her to join his private class.

Zahia overcomes the many obstacles of a young woman becoming a conductor in a position usually given to men, and she and her sister go on to form the Divertimento Symphony Orchestra which is among the great symphonic ensembles of today and aims to give musical access to as many people as possible. Its 70 musicians come from diverse backgrounds.


Zahia also created the Divertimento Academy to train young musicians and has won many awards for her contribution.

This is the seventh feature film from write-director Marie-Castille Mention- Schaar who spent a lot of time getting to know the sisters and their parents. The cinematographer is Naomi Amarger.

If you appreciate classical music I think you will enjoy this uplifting film.

110 minutes.

Spoken in French with English sub-titles.

Showing at Luna Leederville and Windsor Nedlands from June 20

Watch the trailer…