Tackling a Taboo

PARADOCS. Olmo and the Seagull delves into the intimacy of pregnancy in a partly dramatised story of Olivia and Serge, both actors at Paris' famous Théâtre du Soleil, as they are expecting their first child.

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OLMO AND THE SEAGULL. Framegrab

For the past ten years Olivia Corsini has been an actress with the famous avant-garde stage ensemble Théâtre du Soleil, where she met her boyfriend Serge, who is also her acting partner. Part Italian diva, part punk rocker, Olivia has been used to being the centre of attention her whole life. That abruptly changes when she finds out she is pregnant. Olivia has to give up an important part and a tour with the theatre to stay home and take care of herself and the child growing inside her. 

"Even though pregnancy is such an essential part of human existence, it has seldom been explored in cinema, particularly through the female point of view." – Lea Glob and Petra Costa

Translating this emotionally charged time in the couple's life into dramatic re-enactments, Olmo and the Seagull is a hybrid film with roots in classical theatre performance. The two actors are themselves, but at the same time dramatising their feelings about life with a child.

"The aim of our film is to use a personal story of pregnancy as a means to explore questions of female identity, the roles we wish to fulfill, as well as the contradictions between internal thoughts and external actions," directors Lea Glob and Petra Costa explain.

"Even though pregnancy is such an essential part of human existence, it has seldom been explored in cinema, particularly through the female point of view. More commonly, pregnancy is surrounded by clichés.

"However, we believe it is a very complex subject matter. Taken by many to be a 'necessary phase' of female identity, pregnancy is usually simply celebrated, and it is very taboo to talk about loneliness or deeper existential feelings. In Olmo and the Seagull, we hope to complicate this simple, commonly-held image."

Glob and Costa draw their inspiration from Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. In particular, they have been strongly influenced by Woolf's explorations of the fragmentary self through streams of consciousness, whereby interior monologues are used to tell the story through the minds of the principal characters. 

"This is a technique we seek to implement in our own film: creating an intimate look into one woman's everyday life, but weaving in and out of intimate thought processes." 

Olmo and the Seagull is selected for IDFA Paradocs and is produced by Charlotte Pedersen for Zentropa.


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