Film Archive

Secret Nest

Documentary Film
France
2017
82 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Guillaume Poulet (Alter Ego Production)
Sophie Bredier
Hélène Breschand
Matthieu Chatellier
Catherine Rascon, Michaël Phelippeau
Nicolas Joly
The Château Bénouville in Normandy has an eventful history though it may look rather sleepy at the moment. In 1944, British soldiers landed in Hitler-occupied France only a few metres from here to start their first offensive. The castle served as a maternity hospital for unmarried mothers since 1929. In the 1940s, its director supported the Résistance. But the film is only marginally interested in these factual circumstances. It focuses on the experiences of mothers and children who, according to the respective views of institutional custody of the time, were helped here – and at the same time ostracised, at the mercy of others and stigmatised.

We see a wide variety of ways to cope with this “secret motherhood”. We understand the purpose, but also the horrors of suppression when things are carried into the next generation. But this film and its director not only make the protagonists and their descendants speak but act, even sing on camera, demonstrating a trust that goes far beyond “cooperation”. Sophie Bredier also frequently uses the tools of mystic-spectral narration: of huge empty rooms that fill with the stories of these people, of a birth castle that existed until 1985.

Leopold Grün