COMPETITION Alice Diop enters the world of fiction telling the story of Rama, a professor of literature and novelist who travels to Saint-Omer to accompany a trial, being in the first months of pregnancy. In the defendant’s seat is Lawrence Coly, a Senegalese immigrant student accused of having left his daughter, just over a year old, abandoned on the beach. The kinship Rama feels with Lawrence’s life experience makes her apprehensive about her future.
A black woman is on trial in a French court. A Senegalese migrant is accused of murdering her 15-month-old daughter. She confirms she has done the did, but pleads not guilty. Another black woman, a writer, a daughter of a Senegalese migrant woman and a mother-to-be is in the courtroom, looking for a way to tell the story of the modern day Medea. With this character the acclaimed documentary director Alice Diop (Nous, IndieLisboa 2021), writes herself, her background and her creative gaze into her first narrative feature. Saint Omer is based on a real court case that the director attended, and puts on trial both the protagonist and the whole experience of migrant African women in a post-colonial France. Behind every word, and every gaze, between the breaths and in the tears of these women, Alice Diop reveals the hidden monsters of the past. Going beyond the mere courtroom drama, the electric and epic film brings out the tragedy of the human condition: can we separate the monster from the human? (Anastasia Lukovnikova)