UK Premiere: Princess Tam Tam

UK Premiere: Princess Tam Tam

classified 15 S

Black Paris: Josephine and Beyond


Please note: This was screened in July 2022

Edmond T. Gréville
Josephine Baker, Albert Préjean, Germaine Aussey, Robert Arnoux Coton
77 mins, Subtitled, 1935, France
Primary language

“In and of themselves, Baker’s films are a source of knowledge about her – but also about the worlds of symbols and stories; about formation of Blackness in the United States, Europe and Africa; about dance, and about what it means to be in cinema in the 1930s as a Black woman actor and global entertainer.”Dr Terri Simone Francis (Josephine Baker's Cinematic Prism)

During the 1930s, black performers were forbidden to steal the spotlight from white actors on the American screen. To circumvent this unwritten law, singer, dancer and comedian Josephine Baker accepted the invitation to work in France.

Buoyed by the success of the French musical Zou Zou, the same team created this comedy in which a mischievous shepherd girl rises through society to become a pretend princess and the toast of Paris nightlife. While in Tunisia seeking inspiration for a new novel, a French aristocrat (Albert Préjean) becomes infatuated with the innocent Alwina (Josephine Baker) and constructs a plot to bring her back to Paris and pass her off as an Indian princess.

In a thinly veiled parallel to Baker’s own experience, Alwina becomes a celebrity. Her rise to notoriety climaxing in a posh nightclub, where she dances as only La Baker could.

Presented as part of Future City Film Festival which takes place biennially in the autumn but had to be postponed last year due to the pandemic. It will now run through 2022 as a series of special events with the support of BFI awarding funds from National Lottery.