Venice Film Festival | Alice Diop Won The Grand Jury Prize And The First Film Prize For Saint-Omer

The 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival ended last Saturday night with the award ceremony. The French-Senegalese filmmaker and documentarian was inspired by a news story and the trial that followed.

by GRIOT - Published on 11/09/2022
Alice Diop at the 79° Venice Film Festival. Photo via Actual News Magazine

The French-Senegalese filmmaker and documentarian Alice Diop won the Grand Jury Prize and the First Film Prize for her first fiction, Saint-Omer, inspired by a news story and the trial that followed. “I no longer have the words,” said the filmmaker, very moved, receiving her award and highlighting her feminist fight, in particular that of “women of color”: “Silence will not protect us. We will no longer be silent,” she promised.

Inspired by a true story of an infanticide trial and of a writer who follows all the court hearings, Diop’s film seeks to explore ” the great universal question “of our” relationship with motherhood. The director until now specialized in documentaries, César 2017 for her short film Towards tenderness told AFP during the festival that she used “a sordid-looking news item to question something much larger, which is the relationship that all women and men have with motherhood”.

The story takes its cue from a real-life crime story that happened in France in 2016, when Fabienne Kabou, a Senegalese woman, drowned her 15-month-old daughter on the beach in Berck, near Calais, later pleading guilty to the act. Diop, who attended the trial, picks up the story by staging the trial brought to establish the woman’s insanity, if any. The actual trial, held in Saint-Omer, also near Calais, was followed by Diop, who recalls in this regard: “I was obsessed with this story from the start (…) I was really very upset, flabbergasted, crossed by a lot of quite intimate things about my relationship with motherhood.”

In another interview the director said: “The woman began to tell the court about the crime, describing it in great detail: as if they had gone out after breakfast, she had put her to sleep and cradled her, and she had left her on the sand at the mercy of the high tide. Back home, I rewatched Pasolini’s ‘Medea’ and wondered if the woman was deliberately quoting the film. That’s why I included it in mine.”


The documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, by Laura Poitras won the Golden Lion, Bones and all, by Luca Guadagnino, won the Silver Lion. Cate Blanchett starring in TAR and Colin Farrell in The Spirits of the Island won the Coppa Volpi.

Saint-Omer will be released in France on November 23.

Read the interview with Alice Diop Venice Prizewinner Alice Diop on the Haunting Nature of ‘Saint Omer’

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