Screened as part of NZIFF 2023

Saint Omer 2022

Directed by Alice Diop Widescreen

Drawing on a tragic true event, this multi-awarded and mesmerising, stately courtroom drama upends notions of race, cultural heritage, class and female agency, and the mythologies and social prejudices underpinning received ideas.

Aug 30

Odeon Multiplex

Sep 01

Odeon Multiplex

France In French with English subtitles
123 minutes Colour / DCP




Toufik Ayadi, Christophe Barral


Alice Diop
Amrita David
Marie Ndiaye


Claire Mathon


Amrita David

Production Designer

Anna Le Mouël

Costume Designer

Annie Melza Tiburce


Kayije Kagame
Guslagie Malanda
Valérie Dréville
Aurélia Petit
Xavier Maly
Robert Cantarella
Salimata Kamate
Thomas de Pourquery
Adam Diallo Tamba
Mariam Diop
Dado Diop


Venice, Toronto, New York, Busan 2022; Rotterdam 2023


Grand Jury Prize, Venice Film Festival 2022; Best First Film, César Awards 2023


It’s 2016 in the small town of Saint Omer in north-eastern France, Laurence, a cultivated young Senegalese woman is on trial for infanticide. She doesn't deny the prosecution's version of events: despite being a loving mother, she consciously abandoned her 15-month-old daughter to the waves on a beach at night. But to the court’s general consternation, Laurence impassively refutes any guilt: her act was the result of sorcery meted out by her aunts back in Senegal.

Among the people attending the trial, Rama, a best-selling Parisian author and academic, also of Senegalese background, has come to document it. Her publishers expect a juicy account, whereas Rama imagines integrating Laurence’s story into the modern-day adaptation of Medea she is currently writing. As the trial unfolds, revealing haunting details of Laurence’s immigrant experience, the ‘truth’ remains elusive. Laurence only becomes more opaque and her motivations confoundingly mysterious, while Rama is increasingly rattled by unsettling childhood memories and unease about her own impending motherhood. – Sandra Reid

“Quietly momentous. An hypnotically absorbing film that challenges accepted ideas of perspective, of subjectivity and objectivity—and even of what cinema can be when it’s framed by an intelligence that doesn’t accept those accepted ideas. Extraordinary.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

"[An] intellectually charged, emotionally wrenching story about the inability of storytelling – literary, legal or cinematic – to do justice to the violence and strangeness of human experience.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times