Director: Ester Sparatore

Celles_qui_restent poster eng.jpg

Country: France-Italy-Belgium Length: 90’

Screenplay: Ester Sparatore Cinematography: Matteo Vieille Rivara Additional Cinematography: Ester Sparatore, Amine Messadi, Gianni Cigna Live sound recordist: Ester Sparatore Editing: Nadia Touijer Sound Editing: Emmanuel Soland Mix: Jonathan Vanneste Producers: Laure Dahout - Tiresias Films | Giovanni Pompili - Kino produzioni | Patrick André - High Sea Production | Geneviève Lemal - Scope Pictures With the support of: Aide aux cinémas du monde, fondo sviluppo coproduzioni Italia-Francia CNC-MiBAC, Institut française, Eurimages, Women Make Movies, Scam


The photograph-women are gathered in front of the Ministry of the Interior and the Italian Embassy in Tunis. They are holding photographs of their sons, husbands and brothers. All of them have disappeared while emigrating by boat to Europe during the Arab Spring. Among these women is Om El Khir Ouirtani. The film follows her private and public life as mother of three and member of the association La Terre Pour Tous, as she strives to find what happened to her husband and take care of her family.


“Celles qui restent represents a shift in the observation of the phenomenon of immigration: from those who leave to those who remain. I use the social and political events attached to a specific struggle for justice as a point of entry. I chose Om El Khir Ouirtatani to be the main protagonist of my story in order to expose the lives of the Photograph-Women. It is a journey through her daily life forever changed by the absence of her husband. 

The narration of the events is linear, bouncing between private and public life, highlighting how these two aspects of Om El Khir’s life have become interdependent. I want to show the many-sided life of hers, as it shifts and transforms in front of our eyes. The rhythm of the film is measured by the religious rituals and is accompanied by the graceful chants that Om El Khir sings to her children. Traditional songs, tragic love songs and religious songs through which she teaches her children the Arabic language and remembers the great love that she had for their father.

I formally refuse the use of interviews, comments or sound effects. I like the images to speak for themselves and so I try to compose frames that allow a certain degree of flexibility in accommodating the action that takes place. I like to be as discrete as one can be when I place the camera in front of someone’s life but sometimes, like in this scenario, the real discovery happens through the relationship that develops out of the work”. Ester Sparatore


Ortigia Film Festival 2019 - Special Mention for Direction Sole Luna Festival 2019 - Competition Biografilm Festival 2019 - Biografilm Italia Best Film Award Visions du Réel 2019 - Compétition Internationale Longs Métrages