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France, 1997 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Claire Simon

One of the most promising talents in French documentary filmmaking, Claire Simon weighs in forcefully with her debut fiction feature. A Foreign Body is an original, sometimes blackly comical, disturbing and questioning account of the dramatic consequences of a young girl's faked pregnancy.

Using a clinical manner honed in her non-fiction work, Simon has made an uncompromising film. The script, based on a true story, follows the the life of Magali, a guileless provincial lass who realises that being pregnant may save her marriage and comfort her terminally ill lather. Magali, at first unwittingly, takes drastic measures to keep up the pretence of impending motherhood and allows a fib to snowball into an elaborately sustained deception that engulfs her whole family.

"With this film I started from a true story which allowed me to concentrate on the plot itself and not its plausibility. It is as old as the judgement of King Solomon but, at the same time, it has cropped up in newspapers in different forms over the last ten years. The story is both ancient and very modern because it is built around a question touching on ideals: might transcendence come only from having children?

"You can suffer so greatly from other people's idea of you that you think they must be right and begin to take what they say as orders. If you go further down that road you begin to hear voices... the voices of others! It's as if they are sending you a prayer, begging you to be what they hope you to be, since you don't do anything for yourself." - Claire Simon

Born in 1955, Claire Simon wrote and directed her first short film in 1976. A number of award-winning shorts and documentaries followed. A Foreign Body is Simon's first feature, prior works include Les Patients (1989), Récréations (1992), Les Amanats D'Un Jour (1993) and Coûte Que Coûte (1995).

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