The legal drama “Saint Omer” sensitively tells of motherhood and racial tensions in our society. The film by French director Alice Diop won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

At the center is an author named Rama (Kayije Kagame). As an observer and for a book project, she is following the trial of a young woman accused of drowning her 15-month-old baby in the sea. Rama and the accused Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda) both have Senegalese roots and live in France. During the process, Rama is increasingly confronted with her own worries and memories.


Rama, who is pregnant herself, wants to write a story about the process, referring to the Medea myth. According to legend, Medea killed her children. As Coly’s story slowly unfolds, Rama is overcome by fears about her motherhood and worries about her own family history.

Meanwhile, several observers of the trial are irritated because Coly expresses himself carefully and studied philosophy. That doesn’t fit, it sounds, with the racist prejudices they secretly harbor against the black defendant. In any case, a lot of the film is about who speaks how – for example about how the individual characters construct their stories. So “Saint Omer” is a multi-layered drama that has many more levels beyond the pure crime story.