TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


The Defendant

Franco Lolli, Virginie Legeay, Christophe Barral

Colombia, France


42-year-old Silvia is a strong, independent, but unhappy woman. A single mother by choice, she has little free time for Antón, her 4-year-old son, given her work as a lawyer, the corruption charges she is facing, and the time she spends with her cancer-stricken mother.
Desperate for a change in her life, she resigns from her job, starts a relationship with Abel (a left-wing reporter who once publicly accused her) and does not hesitate to move cross-country with him, taking Antón with her. There, she works to defend an indigenous community embattled in a lawsuit against a mining company, and, above all, she looks for ways to sustain the newly contrived family her son refuses to accept.
Forced to return to Bogotá, Silvia must face her mother’s final decline with no other male company than Antón. As she realises that one truly becomes a mother only after burying one’s parents, Silvia starts to find her way at last, along a path that will free her from guilt.


“With motherly love, life makes you a promise at dawn that is never fulfilled.” Romain Gary

All my films have featured a single mother struggling with motherhood. Always my mother, and yet, never enough. “The Defendant” is my attempt to finally draw her portrait in all her complexity and, at the same time, depict my country, Colombia, where the rule of law is not yet a reality.
Although extremely personal, it is also, of all my projects, the one that opens the most doors to fiction, imagination, and lyricism for me. I want to make a film deliberately impure, that transitions from the most direct realism to the most obvious sublimation.
I want the audience to feel and dream along with Silvia, as if walking through an Impressionist painting, discovering her dysfunctional family, the public entities she deals with daily, and the rural environment abandoned by the state to which she tries to escape, as she transitions from being a daughter to being a mother, while always remaining a woman.

budget, distribution & sales

“The Defendant” is scheduled to begin shooting in Colombia in the summer of 2018. Like “Gente de Bien”, Franco Lolli’s first film, it is also a French-Colombian co-production. The film costs € 1.071.000, of which € 601.000 have already been secured through contributions from the production companies and a production grant from Colombia’s FDC Fund. The remaining financing is currently being sought, mainly in France (where "Gente de Bien" drew nearly 70.000 spectators), in the form of grants, pre-sales and/or co-production with a TV channel, and the participation of a distributor and a sales agent. “The Defendant” tells the universal story of a woman’s struggle in a masculine society and shows off a diverse country that includes everything from the urban yet mountainous landscapes of Bogotá to the solitary deserts of La Guajira. Without falling into clichés, it explores a number of themes, from the desire to change society to the possibility of transforming one’s own destiny. But its power derives, above all, from its subject matter, which is something simple we all share: family. It is a work about transmission, reconciliation and relief, which should resonate deeply with audiences.


Silvia quits her job as a lawyer only to take on her biggest case yet: how to become a mother.
Franco Lolli

Scriptwriter, Film Director, Production

Virginie Legeay


Christophe Barral


production notes

original title

directed by
Franco Lolli

produced byLes Films du Worso
34-36 boulevard Raspail
75007, Paris

in co-production with
Evidencia Films – Colombia

written by
Franco Lolli
Virginie Legeay

total production budget
€ 1.071.000