Ombline, 18 months behind the walls of a prison
- In his feature film debut, French Stéphane Cazes explores the theme of maternity in a difficult environment
A young woman with a baby a little over one reads from a Noah and the Ark book. The frame widens and reveals that the room she is sitting in is a cell and guards are waiting for the story to finish so that they can take the child away. The scene’s harshness does nothing to take away from the intimacy of the moment.
Ombline [+see also:
film profile], a feature film debut for French Stéphane Cazes presented yesterday (8 April) in competition at the RIFF, was born from the director’s desire to explore the theme of maternity in a difficult environment like that of prisons. Cazes spent ten years developing his idea, which was born in 2002 as a short. He met female inmates and prison guards and participated in educational support activities in prisons through French organisation Genepi.
Main character Ombline (actress and model Mélanie Thierry) is 20 and full of anger. She is in prison for assaulting a policeman. But outside things weren’t going that well either. Her mother died when she was too young to remember her, her father has been in prison for years and she was brought up in an institution where she fell in love with a man caught up in the underworld who also ended up dying.
The only light appears following her pregnancy, which she goes through in prison. When the baby is born, Ombline is able to spend 18 months with him behind prison walls. Moments of tenderness are mixed with fights with guards and the knowledge that she will soon have to decide who to entrust her baby with. As she becomes aware of her situation, Ombline learns to deal with her anger and takes on the responsibility associated with her new role.
The result is an intense, dramatic film, seen through the eyes of the main character (the camera never leaves her visual space). A dramatic unity is maintained, despite a few beginner’s mistakes – the excessive soundtrack accentuates needless melodrama and the ending’s conciliatory tone is out of sink with a story of violence and alienation.
Distributed in France in September 2012 by Zed, Ombline was produced by Ilann Girard for Arsam International, Jérémy Zelnik for Dibona Films and Diana Elbaum and Sébastien Delloye for Entre Chien et Loup.
(Translated from Italian)
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