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Saint Omer

Saint-Omer court of law. Young novelist Rama attends the trial of Laurence Coly, a young woman accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter by abandoning her to the rising tide on a beach in northern France. But as the trial continues, the words of the accused and witness testimonies will shake Rama’s convictions and call into question our own judgement.
In this extraordinary narrative debut by acclaimed documentarian Alice Diop, a young novelist is forced to confront her personal traumas as she observes the trial of a woman accused of infanticide. For the past decade, award-winning documentarian Alice Diop has turned her camera on the injustices and intimate stories of immigrant communities on the peripheries of Paris in a meaningful act of recentring. With Saint Omer, her astonishing narrative feature debut, she brings her typical sensitivity and rigour to a story liberally adapted from a 2013 fait divers, in which a woman allegedly placed her 15-month-old daughter on a beach in northern France, abandoning her to the high tide. This progressively claustrophobic courtroom drama is told through the stoic point of view of Rama (played with restrained intensity by a superb Kayije Kagame), a young novelist working on a contemporary retelling of the ancient Medea myth. Pregnant herself and increasingly uneasy, Rama’s own family history, doubts, and fears about motherhood are steadily dislodged as the life story of the accused woman, Laurence Coly (an extraordinary Guslagie Malanda), is gradually revealed. From a stern upbringing in Senegal to gradual isolation from family and society on her arrival in Europe, Coly’s experiences expose the traumas of racism and emotional manipulation that can remain unspoken while insidiously and irrevocably corroding a person’s well-being.
Original title
Saint Omer
English title
Saint Omer
Year
2022
Country
Language
FR
Subtitles
CZ
Running time
122 min
Genre
Age rating
15+
Release date CZ
30. 5. 2024
Release date SK
30. 5. 2024

Festivals
National
Be2Can
International
Benátky

Awards

Venice IFF
Grand Jury Prize, Best Debut Film
2022
Lumière
Nominee | Best Film, Best Screenplay, Most Promising Actress, Best Cinematography
2023
César
Nominee | Best First Film, Best Original Screenplay, Most Promising Actress, Best Cinematography
2023

Media reception

The Guardian
★★★★★ „An extraordinary experience.“
Little White Lies
★★★★★ „The standard for ‘Best of 2023’ lists has already been set.“

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