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Saint Omer

Black History Month

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In a 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.

Evoking the Greek tragedy Medea, Diop’s inspiration for Saint Omer was the 2013 news story of a 15 month old girl found drowned on a beach and the French mother of Senegalese origin accused in her death

Instinctively drawn to the case after seeing a photo of the accused mother taken by surveillance camera, Diop attended the trial in 2016 as an observer where she was badly shaken by the experience. Diop used court transcripts in writing the screenplay and creating the character of Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), as the accused mother and a pregnant young novelist, Rama, (Kayije Kagame) attending the trial.

Diop’s superb film, her first dramatic work after a series of acclaimed documentaries, subtly, almost surreptitiously evokes complex ideas and emotions around motherhood, gender, and marginalized communities. It won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival last year.

“Based on who they are—what they experience or go through, their biographical and political history—people do not look at the film in the same way… It is dizzying for me to realize that every time. And also extremely moving.” Alice Diop, director and co-screenwriter

Startling, scary, and unforgettable. It’s the sort of thing we go to the movies for.

Adam Nayman, The Ringer

Deceptively austere, extraordinarily multifaceted, quietly momentous.

Jessica Kiang, Variety

Diop uses the story of a seemingly demonic woman to show how the workings of society have contributed to her downfall… The powerhouse denouement is a staggering insight into how colonial legacies continues to affect lives today.

Kaleem Aftab, Time Out

Director

Alice Diop

Cast

Kayije Kagame, Guslagie Malanda, Valérie Dréville, Aurélia Petit, Xavier Maly

Credits
Country of Origin

France

Year

2022

Language

In French with English subtitles

Awards

Winner: Silver Lion, Venice Film Festival

19+
122 min

Book Tickets

Saturday February 04

4:20 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Sunday February 05

5:00 pm
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VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Tuesday February 07

1:00 pm
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VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Wednesday February 08

7:45 pm
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VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Thursday February 09

5:50 pm
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VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Friday February 10

5:30 pm
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VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre
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Sunday February 12

2:00 pm
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VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre
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Thursday February 16

7:55 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre
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Credits

Producer

Toufik Ayadi, Christophe Barral

Screenwriter

Alice Diop, Amrita David, Marie NDiaye

Cinematography

Claire Mathon

Editor

Amrita David

Original Music

Thibault Deboaisne

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