A Côté

France 2007, Documentary, 92' | Director, DoP Stéphane Mercurio | Screenplay Stéphane Mercurio, Anne Zisman | Editor Francoise Bernard | Sound Patrick Genet | Music Hervé Birolini | Production Viviane Aquili

“The idea was to take a step sideways and reveal the prison inside. Remaining outside, in the world of women, understanding the prison through their feelings.” Stéphane Mercurio
Next to the men’s jail in Rennes, as with every jail in France, there is a hostel for relatives. Women turn up there, sometimes with their children, to wait for the visiting times when they can see their husbands, sons or brothers. All of them are always too early, because: if anyone is just a little bit late, the prison doors will close in their faces. So Claire, Chantal, Françine, Séverine and many others are all waiting here, week after week. In this space where emotions congregate: frustration, anger, hope, longing, fear, passion. You need a lot of strength to keep coming back here. While they were waiting, Stéphane Mercurio got the women to talk about what motivates them, what they miss and what they have to fight for. A Côté is about how prison also affects and regulates the lives of people outside, and how these women are sometimes “not their usual selves” yet still enjoy life to the full. But the film also reveals the deplorable conditions and the lack of interest on the part of the prison in any rehabilitation of the inmates – and shows how “clueless” the system is.


A former chief editor of the monthly magazine La Rue, STÉPHANE MERCURIO began her film career with short films on social issues and everyday culture. She became known with A Côté. The film was a sensation in France, and was even shown and discussed in the Senate.

Stéphane Mercurio, Stephane Mercurio
Focus: Freedom