section Feature Film Competition

Where Life Begins

  • Stéphane Freiss
  • IT/FR
  • 2022
  • 100 min

On the annual family trip to Italy, 26-year-old Esther, daughter of an Orthodox French family, transcends the boundaries of her predetermined life. Freiss subtly directs this film about a strong affection between a young, slightly desperate Jewish woman and a much older, divorced Italian.

Every summer, an Orthodox Jewish family from Aix-Le-Bains comes to southern Italy to harvest a sacred, kosher citrus fruit. Esther, now 26 and still without a husband, increasingly starts to have doubts both about her religion and her monotonous existence. She becomes friends with the owner of the orchard, the Italian Elio; though not permitted to enter a man's house, join one for a ride in his car, nor even to surf the Internet or dance she begins, with increasing assertiveness, to take new liberties.
This compelling yet subtle directorial debut from French actor Stéphabes Freiss about a young Jewish female who questions her predestined existence is no pamphlet against orthodox Judaism however; instead, it depicts how difficult it is for young women to exist within such rigid rules. Freiss' own mother was also an orthodox Jew and lived in Tel Aviv. Italian star Riccardo Scamarcio and French actress Lou de Laáge touchingly play this unlikely couple who fall platonically in love with each other. And when, at the end, a beautiful Lucia Dalla song sounds, you will have seen a truly wonderful film.
Text: Jörg Taszman
English: Peter Rickerby

On 14.6. at 19:15 at Thalia - Das Programmkino and on 15.6. at 19:00 on the MS Goldberg director Stéphane Freiss will be present for a film talk after the film.

watch trailer

" title="Trailer: Where Life Begins" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>


original title Where Life Begins

international title Where Life Begins

german title Where Life Begins

JFBB section Feature Film Competition

  • director Stéphane Freiss

country/countries IT/FR

year 2022

duration 100 min

Portrait of Stéphane Freiss

Stéphane Freiss