DOK Leipzig 29 October – 4 November 2018
61st International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film
DOK Leipzig Film Festival

Secret Nest

Secret Nest

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


Original Title: Maternité secrète
Country: France
Year: 2017
Language: French
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 82 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour and B&W
Director: Sophie Bredier
Producer: Guillaume Poulet (Alter Ego Production)
Cinematographer: Matthieu Chatellier
Editor: Catherine Rascon, Michaël Phelippeau
Sound: Nicolas Joly
Music: Hélène Breschand

The annotations to the films in the Official Selection were written by the members of the selection committee and guest authors. All quotes from DOK Leipzig 2018 catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author's name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.