“All my films constantly question French society on the margins”

Formée à L’Histoire et à la sociologia visuelle, Alice Diop a signé son premier film, la « Tour du monde », en 2005. Depuis, ses créations ont élues domicile en Seine-Saint Denis et ne la quitteront plus, à quelques exceptions Neighbor. It will be ” Clicky, for example », « Danton’s death », « Stay “, or ” Towards tenderness » which had won the César for best short film in 2017, and more recently « We “. Many works with different expedients that do not intend to position the director as a spokesman for the suburbs, if not to give substance to singular individuals and unique journeys, far from the generality of “suburbanites”. Exploring the intimate to tend towards the universal, such is the principle that the director unfolds from film to film and which finds a new resonance in ” Saint-Omer “, his latest film, in theaters November 23. Inspired by a true story, that of the trial of Fabienne Kabou in 2016, this film delves into the question of motherhood and marks the successful transition from documentary to fiction for the director. It won the Grand Jury Prize and the Opera Prima Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2022, as well as the Jury Prize at the Festival 2 Cinéma 2 Valenciennes and the Jean-Vigo Prize.

In a long-term interview, Alice Diop talks about her career, her imagination and her working methods.

The sociological subject worked by the language of cinema

While studying African history at the Sorbonne, the future director discovered the film “Tales and Accounts of the Court” by the anthropologist Eliane de Latour, a thesis on the women of a harem in Niger. For Alice Diop, it was a revelation:

Everything I’ve learned, that is, all this colonial history that had never been told to me, sheds light on my present: my intimate life, the woman I was, the relationships I could have with my parents, their melancholy, etc. . These were very powerful discoveries, but I had the impression that they were confined to a framework where there was no echo. And suddenly, discovering with Eliane de Latour’s “Contes et décomptes de la cour” that university work in sociology, anthropology and history could finally take on a sensitive form and offer people the possibility of sharing knowledge that can be extremely acute, that was my first encounter with cinema.” Alice Diop

43 minutes

For an ideal Film Library of the peripheries of the world

With the cinema department of the Center Pompidou, in particular Amélie Galli, and the Ateliers Médicis, in Clichy-Montfermeil, Alice Diop initiated the project of an ideal film library of the world’s suburbs, to reflect on the cinematographic heritage filmed in these territories:

The idea of ​​this ideal film library from the periphery of the world was to question and wring the neck of this cliché of periphery cinema, which is an invention of lazy critics. What is suburban cinema? Who are the directors of the suburbs? It has often annoyed me to be systematically put off on this question, because I have the impression of not being seen as a director, but only as a spokesman for these territories. With the idea, yes, that this position of spokesperson isolates you a lotAlice Diop

28 minutes

The suburbs are so many that they require singular and absolutely diversified voices. There are many of us who can and must relate these territories to a place that is ours, and this place is not the same. I don’t make the same films as Ladj Ly, Houda Benyamina or Rachid Djaïdani and the fact of confining us all in this word is also a way of making our singularities invisible. It was all I wanted to interrogate with the question of the ideal film library of the peripheries of the world, as much as reflecting on the erased memory of these films that have not been transmitted to us.” Alice Diop

Saint Omer, a powerful film at the intersection of fiction and documentary

I had a very physical experience at Fabienne Kabou’s trial and I believe the film bears the mark of this physicality. It’s a movie that feels a lot, and it’s also a movie that liberates based on viewer feedback. Puts the viewer into action. We hold our breath listening to this woman, what she tells us and what she transmits and moves us inside. The sea is rising. It is truly a film made of breathsAlice Diop

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What interested me in this story is the mythological dimension and the way this woman’s story questions motherhood, the bond between mother and child. It is through Rama’s character that these problems can be clarified. If Rama isn’t there, I don’t know what to look at and above all I don’t want to listen to a woman tell how she drowned her son in the water. On the contrary, I listen to this woman who has offered her daughter to the sea and I feel something because I hear her in the light of a woman who is herself pregnant, who cannot tell her mother and who is about to go on a journey to clarify these problem areas in herselfAlice Diop

28 minutes

His news : “Saint-Omer”, by Alice Diop, in theaters on November 23, 2022. With Kayije Kagame, Guslagia Malanda, Valerie DrevilleAnd Aurelia Petit.

Sounds played during the show:

  • Interview with Eliane de Latour in “Open at night” on 22 November 2011 on France Inter.
  • Interview with Marcel Carné on his film “Terrain Vague”, in April 1960.
  • Excerpted from ‘In a Silent Way’ by Miles Davis, in 1969.
  • Report of the trial of Fabienne Kabou, in the 18/20 of France Inter on 19 June 2016.

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