Alice Diop's 'Saint Omer' Will Debut in January

Alice Diop's 'Saint Omer' Will Debut in January
Photo: YouTube

The French director's riveting legal drama will be released in the US early next year.

After a year of accruing critical acclaim from film festivals across the world, Alice Diop's Saint Omer now has a release date. The film will hit theaters in the US on January 13, 2023. It is France's submission for the 95th Academy Awards in the Best International Picture category, and makes Diop the first Black woman to represent that country in the Oscar race.

Saint Omer is based on a true story, and critically examines themes of motherhood and infanticide. These themes are chronicled through the life of Laurence Coly, a young mother who is accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter after negligently abandoning her in a rising tide on the beach.

The courtroom drama is named after a northern town in France, which is also the setting for the film. Diop gives a unique spin on the court case by unraveling its storyline through the eyes of Rama (Kayije Kagame), a young, pregnant novelist who attended Coly's trial. The drama also shows Rama grappling with her moral compass and personal convictions as more details unravel during the trial, making it increasingly difficult for her to trust her judgment.

Through Saint Omer, Diop critically delves into the intricacies of motherhood and the effects of generational trauma. So far, the evocative drama has won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and is expected to make a big splash during awards season.

Although Diop previously worked primarily as a documentary filmmaker, Saint Omer is her first transition into the world of narrative feature films. The screenplay was co-written by Diop along with Amrita David and Marie NDiaye. Throughout the course of her career, the director, who has Senegalese heritage, has been known for telling human interest stories that inspire emotion and reaction.

Earlier this year, Diop sat down with OkayAfrica, and shared her convictions for creating deeply personal stories that underscore the experiences of marginalized people. "Film, for me, is not a space for entertainment; it is a space for revenge and self-care. Saint Omer is not about the banlieues at all. I believe that people from the banlieues have every right to make films that are not about the banlieues," said Diop. "It is about maternity, and I have every right to talk about maternity because it is a question that is relevant to Black women as much as it is to white women. I am speaking from my own body, and I think the closer I am to myself, the more likely I am to touch other people."

Watch the trailer for Saint Omer below: