A curse of three decades. Since the ovation in 1993 at Indochina by Régis Wargnier, never a French feature film failed to pocket again the prestigious statuette of the best international film at the Oscars. In 2023, it will be the turn of Saint Omer, twice awarded in early September at the Venice Film Festival, directed by Alice Diop, to try his luck. The ceremony is scheduled for March 12, 2023 in Las Vegas.
Inspired by a true story of a trial for infanticide, Saint-Omer seeks to explore the “universal question” from “relation to motherhood”, affirmed the director during the Mostra. His film tells the story of Laurence Coly, played by Guslagie Malanda, a Senegalese immigrant accused of having killed her 15-month-old baby by abandoning her on a northern beach at rising tide. The film, centered on the trial, is directly inspired by a news item from 2013 and the trial that followed.
This is the first feature film by the 43-year-old director, until then specializing in documentaries whose We (2021), which took the viewer to meet a territory – that crossed by the RER B – and its inhabitants.
The shortlisted films were unveiled on Thursday September 15 by the competent committee. Of the 33 films submitted, five were ultimately selected:
Full time, by Éric Gravel, with Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez and Geneviève Mnich.
The worst, by Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret, with Mallory Wanecque, Timéo Mahaut and Johan Heldenbergh.
See Paris again, by Alice Winocour, with Virginie Efira and Benoît Magimel.
Saint Omer, by Alice Diop, with Kayije Kagame, Guslagie Malanda and Valérie Dréville. The director has just pocketed, on September 10, the Silver Lion and the Lion of the Future at the Venice Film Festival.
A nice morning, by Mia Hansen-Løve, with Léa Seydoux, Pascal Greggory and Melvil Poupaud.
Since a reform passed this summer, justified in particular by a desire to dispel suspicions of conflicts of interest by eliminating the ex officio members, the commission in charge of deciding is made up of seven film professionals, appointed each year by Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak, on the proposal of the president of the National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC), Dominique Boutonnat. This year, its members are exporters Grégoire Melin and Hengameh Panahi, producers Didar Domehri and Philippe Rousselet, directors Jacques Audiard and Michel Gondry, and distribution manager at Gaumont, Ariane Toscan du Plantier.
Only feature films released between January 1 and November 30, 2022, were eligible, not necessarily in French, but in a majority language different from English, and whose artistic team is mainly French. Last year, Titaniumby Julia Ducournau, emerged unsuccessful from the competition, after winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Update: this Friday at 8:45 p.m., with the choice of the film “Saint-Omer” by Alice Diop.