Alice Diop’s Saint Omer and its Lexicons of Shadows / Fania Noël

On January 14th, Alice Diop was presenting her most recent film at the NYC Film Forum and the Africa Center. Critics and international festivals have praised Alice Diop’s first feature film for its cinematography, narrative, and acting. After earning the Lion of the Future and the Golden Lion at Venice, Saint Omer won the César of best first film at the 48th César ceremony on Friday, February 24. Saint Omer displayed a lexicon of shadowiness mastering the art of fragments—a cinematographic embodiment of Saidiya Hartman’s ‘critical fabulation’ methodology coined in her essay “Venus in Two Acts.”1 Although Saint Omer cannot be reduced to an “inspired by real-life” film, the film offers an acute awareness of Black subjectivities, silence, and its shadows.

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