One day, Néhémie, a young 19 years old student, starts wearing an afro. Because she wanted to. She was far from suspecting that this choice, which seemed harmless to her, was going to trigger so much racism : remarks, looks, controls, violence… Adopted from white parents, Néhémie has difficulty being understood by her entourage. She has been taught to let things go. This short film becomes an open letter in which she tries to explain to her white adoptive parents the racism that she suffers. Through poignant family portraits, she addresses the issue of self-construction in a mixed family context where experiences diverge, and exposes the French denial of racism.
A word from Tënk
Dear Mom, yesterday I wanted to be free and I found out I was Black in France
From On ne peut plus rien dire’s first sentence, the tone is set. The film primarily addresses filmmaker Néhémie Lemal’s white parents, in an effort to explain to them what it means for her to have grown up in the context of a transracial adoption, passing the microphone to adoptees who grew up in France and inviting us to rethink adoption policies. It helps create a new discourse of what it means to belong for people who grew up in adoptive households, reframing the many consequences of adoption that are otherwise easily hushed up or denied—tellingly, Lemal’s denunciation of racism in France is directed especially at her entourage’s refusal to acknowledge it. What she has to say to her parents (and the public) is intimate, unfiltered, and confrontational.
The filmmaker’s position fits into a larger narrative, one also explored by filmmaker, author and adoptee Amandine Gay: "I don’t possess a single part of my past: I have no medical history, no family tree, no stories passed down over the years. So I have to write my own story. It’s the only way I can become something more than the accumulated silences, trauma and loss." (From Une poupée en chocolat, translated from the original French).
Tënk's Artistic Director