Our next series of LIFF Presents previews and other special screenings returns to Vue Leeds in The Light on Wednesday 25 January with Venice Silver Lion winner Saint Omer, the first feature from French filmmaker Alice Diop. We will announce more LIFF Presents screenings soon.

"A stunning film which stirringly builds a confessional out of the stones in the hands of merciless executioners." - Rafaela Sales Ross, Little White Lies

"A quietly momentous French courtroom drama that subtly but radically rewrites the rules of the game." - Jessica Kiang, Variety

In this extraordinary first narrative feature by acclaimed documentarian Alice Diop, a young novelist is forced to confront her personal traumas as she observes the trial of a woman accused of infanticide. This progressively claustrophobic courtroom drama is told through the stoic point of view of Rama (played with restrained intensity by a superb Kayije Kagame), a young novelist working on a contemporary retelling of the ancient Medea myth. Pregnant herself and increasingly uneasy, Rama’s own family history, doubts, and fears about motherhood are steadily dislodged as the life story of the accused woman, Laurence Coly (an extraordinary Guslagie Malanda), is gradually revealed. From a stern upbringing in Senegal to gradual isolation from family and society on her arrival in Europe, Coly’s experiences expose the traumas of racism and emotional manipulation that can remain unspoken while insidiously and irrevocably corroding a person’s well-being.

Director statement from Alice Diop: "In June 2016, I attended the trial of a woman who killed her baby daughter by dropping her off at high tide on a beach in France. I imagined that she wanted to offer her to the ‘sea’, a more powerful ‘mother’ than she could be. Inspired by a true story, but fueled by an imagination that summoned mythological figures, I wrote this film: the story of a young novelist who attends the trial of an infanticidal mother with the aim of writing a contemporary version of the Medea myth. But nothing will happen as she had planned. The opacity of the accused will constantly return her to her own ambiguity about motherhood. It is a film that I wanted to make to probe the unspeakable mystery of mothers."