Buoyed by its success at the Mostra, Saint-Omer becomes France’s Oscar nominee

DESCRIPTION – Awarded at Venice, this feature debut by documentary filmmaker Alice Diop, which moved Cate Blanchett to tears, is inspired by the true story of an infanticide by drowning. It has some serious strengths.

“It is not about choosing the best film of the French 7th art but about designating the one that will have the most potential to please the American market and the tastes of the members of the Academy of the Oscars”, we remember at the National Film Center. The renewed committee of the CNC, in charge of choosing the hexagonal film nominated for an Oscar nomination for best international film, issued its verdict on Friday night and dubbed Saint Omerthe first feature film by documentary filmmaker Alice Diop.

Inspired by the drowning infanticide perpetrated in Berck-sur-mer by the child’s mother in 2013, the courtroom film seeks to explore the “universal question” of the “relationship with motherhood”. Released in theaters on November 23, Saint-Omer, distributed by Les films du losange, 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 beach. at high tide. The film is directly based on the 2013 news story and the trial that followed.

The same American distributor that Parasite

Saint Omer was part of a trio of five titles, dominated by female directors, and won a beautiful morning by Mia Hanson-Love and See Paris again by Alice Winocour, presented in parallel sections of Cannes, the the worst honored in Un Certain Respect and in Full time by Eric Gravel honored in the Horizons section of the Mostra 2021.

Alice Diop was awarded twice by the Julianne Moore jury in Venice TIZIANA FABI / AFP

Alice Diop’s work filled several important boxes in the eyes of the seven-professional committee, on which directors Michel Gondry and Jacques Audiard sat. She has a prestigious American distributor, a fine connoisseur of the Hollywood awards season. Neon was the architect of the triumph of the Palme d’Or of South Korea Parasitehistorical Oscar winner for best film and best international film in 2020. Saint Omer demonstrated its compatibility with the American sensibility with its sensational debut at the Venice Film Festival, whose jury was chaired by Julianne Moore. Saint-Omer left the Serenissima with the Grand Prix and the prize for the first film in Venice.

Surviving the Oscars preselections

He found himself in the lagoon with fierce and influential admirers, future crucial ambassadors. Starting with “Queen” Cate Blanchett.In the race for the Golden Lion for the publication of the fable #MeToo TarThe Australian actress really wanted to attend the premiere of Saint-Omer and left the room shaken, with tears in her eyes.

Symbol of diversity and feminization of the seventh art, Saint Omer it is “a powerful film, emblematic of the renaissance of French cinema that we are proud to have supported in particular with the income advance”, welcomed the head of the CNC, Dominique Boutonnat. But nothing is played. Being sent to the Oscars doesn’t mean staying out of contention on March 12, 2023 in Los Angeles.

There are only five nomination places for around 90 feature films from around the world. The Oscars will reveal a shortlist of 15 shortlisted films on December 21, 2022, ahead of the five nominated films on January 24, 2023. The most prominent rivals are the Irish drama shot entirely in Gaelic. the quiet girl, Japanese film about euthanasia Map 75Swedish and Cannes revelation The Cairo Conspiracy.

The candidate proposed by the CNC committee has only crossed this last barrier half the time in recent years. golden palm Titanium by Julia Ducournau had been rejected. And the last French film to win an Oscar in the best international film section dates back to 1993 with Indochine!

A deeply redesigned CNC committee

To give itself the best chance of pleasing the other side of the Atlantic, the CNC revised, at the end of July, the organization of its commission in charge of selecting the French film for the Oscars. Out come the full-fledged members like the bosses of the Césars and the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux, often accused of favoritism. From now on, the commission is made up of seven professionals: two exporters, two producers, two directors and a qualified personality. They are renewed every year, to avoid conflicts of interest, by the Minister of Culture at the proposal of the president of the CNC.

Another novelty is that only the files of films released between January 1 and the end of November, and having submitted a voluntary application, are examined. In the past, if its release date was eligible, a feature film automatically entered the race. For the 2023 Oscars, 32 feature films were presented. A mobilization that delighted the CNC.

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