Past Event

Saint Omer

April 7, 2023
6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
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Pulitzer Hall 2950 Broadway New York, NY 10027

Film Screening and Q&A with director Alice Diop and Maboula Soumahoro

Alice Diop, 2022, 122 min. French with English subtitles


Rama (Kayije Kagame), a successful journalist and author living in Paris, has come to Saint Omer, a town in the north of France, to attend the trial of a young Senegalese woman, Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), who allegedly murdered her baby daughter. Although she admits to killing the child, she cannot or will not provide motivation, claiming it was a kind of sorcery out of her control. Rama’s plan to write about Laurence in a book inspired by the Medea myth increasingly unravels as she becomes overwhelmed by the case and reckons with memories of her immigrant mother as well as her own impending motherhood. In her consummate fiction feature debut, Alice Diop constructs an arresting yet highly sensitive, superbly acted film of constantly revealing layers. Saint Omeris at once a tense courtroom drama, a work of abstracted psychological portraiture, an inquiry into human agency, and a provocative examination of the limits of myth and cross-cultural knowledge. 

Saint Omer is France's 2023 Oscars entry. It made the Oscar Shortlist for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. It won the Silver Lion Grand Jury prize along with the Luigi De Laurentiis Lion of the Future award. It was awarded the César in 2023 for best First Feature Film.  

Click here to watch the trailer

Alice Diop, born 1979 in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France is a director of Senegalese descent with a Masters in history and a Doctorate in visual sociology. She studied documentary filmmaking at La Femis in Paris and has written and directed several documentaries. In 2011, Alice Diop's feature documentary Danton’s Death won the Library Award at the Cinéma du Réel Festival as well as the Etoile de la Scam 2012 Award. Her 2020 documentary, Nous, won the Encounters Award at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival. Saint Omer is her first fiction film.

Maboula Soumahoro is an associate professor at the University of Tours and president of the Black History Month Association (Paris). A specialist in the field of Africana Studies, she has taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France and was most recently the inaugural Villa Albertine Resident in Atlanta. Dr. Soumahoro is the author of Black is the Journey, Africana the Name (Polity, 2022) She is the 2022-2023 Mellon Arts Project International Visiting Professor at the African American and Africana Studies Department of Columbia University as well as Visiting Faculty at Bennington College. In 2023-2024, she will be a fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris.

This screening is organized by the generous support of The School of Journalism and the The Eric Holder Jr. Initiative for Political and Civil Rights, and co-sponsored by African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS)/Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS); Alliance Program; Heyman Center; Africana Studies (Barnard College); Institute for African Studies (IAS); Department of French and Maison Française; Film, School of the Arts; Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS); Center for Comparative Media; Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender.

We (Nous) by Alice Diop will also be shown at Columbia Maison Française on Wednesday, April 12. RSVP here.

Les Sénégalaises et La Sénégauloise by Alice Diop will also be accessible on Albertine Cinémathèque from Monday, April 3, 2023 | 12pm EST To Sunday, April 9, 2023 | 11pm EST. RSVP to stream the film for free on FestivalScope.