LYON, 18 june 2001 (AFP) - 12 years ago, Aïcha walked the steps of the Palais des festivals in Cannes : she was Baba, the grandmother in the film of Emir Kusturica, "Time of the gypsies". Today, Aïcha, in the Rhone, asked for asylum after fleeing of Montenegro where she says to be persecuted by the Maffia.
This 59 years old Rom, shows old pictures, where she sits in an official dinner with the bosnian director (Golden Palm in 1985 and 1995) and Gilles Jacob, director of the Festival of Cannes. She was said he was the president, thus she calls him Jacques Chirac.
Without any bitterness, Aïcha, puts her hand on her heart, to express her recognition towards the "nice" persons she met in Cannes, like this unknown American who give her his ring.
Mother of nine children, she sits on a bed, all roundnesses outside, in nonchalance. Engraved and suntanned face due to the sun of Balkans, she carries a scarf on her head, braids, earrings, teenage tee-shirt and a mauve glossed skirt.
Slowly, she lights a cigarette, and with a rocky voice says she simply wishes "water, bread and a house to be quiet in France".
More than 10 days ago, this Montenegrin left ex-Yugoslavia, persecuted, according to her statements, by "the Maffia" which asked her for money, threatening to kill her, what she describes while slipping her hand horizontal on her neck. This same Maffia destroyed her house that she had built with the money of the film, leaving it empty, explains her son, Alexander, political refugee, who translates the conversation into French to the AFP journalist.
By prudence, his mother wishes to see published neither her complete name, nor the precise place where she is.
Kusturica, a "noble-hearted man"
She had the same fate as thousands of natives of ex-Yugoslavia who fled their country via Albania and the port of Vlora, the inhuman conditions of the crossing in boat to join Brindisi in Italy, from where she gained Lyon by truck.
Actress of a single director, she remembers Emir Kusturica, a "noble-hearted man". For him, she was Baba, the grandmother who breeds her grandson, Perhan, before he starts to fly to survive, in Italy, on Goran Bregović's gypsy melancholic airs. Later, she will be Sujka, in "Black Cat, White Chat" (1998).
She hasn't seen Kusturica for three years, but if he proposed to her today to play in another film, she would accept immediately, while worrying with humour about his answer, because meanwhile, she lost some front teeth.
In 1987, collaborators of Kusturica had come to her in Montenegro to propose her a role in "Time of the gypsies". She met him for the first time in Skopje in Macedonia, the same year.
When shooting one of the last scenes of film, Baba refuses stoically one more time the money to his son who becomes mad. As a revenge, he tears off with a truck the prefabricated structure of his mother's house, who finds herself under the rain in nightdress protecting from her stoutness her daughter-in-law and a child.
"With the Maffia, it is the opposite of the film, I gave all my money hoping that they would leave me in peace", she explains.
Aïcha is convoked September 10 by the prefecture of the Rhone for a first examination of her asylum request.