TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding



Olivier Ciechelski



1640 in Providence, a small protestant colony in New France, between the Ocean and the Wilderness.

Hester is an outcast. She lives outside the village with her daughter Marie. She has been wearing a large red “A” on her chest since she was convicted of adultery seven years ago - that is Marie’s age. Her life was spared only because no one could ever prove her husband was still alive...

Hester is struggling to keep Marie: the authorities want a more “suitable” household to take care of the little girl. As the trial goes on, we notice that two men seem to take special - although antagonistic - interest in Marie’s destiny: Doctor Charcot and Reverend Desportes. They are friends, yet they have their own secrets...

Thanks to Desportes’ plea, Hester finally keeps the custody of Marie. But her relief is not to last.

We soon discover that Charcot is Hester’s husband, while Desportes is Marie’s father. Charcot urges Hester one last time to confess. Otherwise, he will make sure the child is adopted - and would he not be the best tutor for the child? Especially when he is to become Providence’s new Governor...


My ambition is to write and shoot a period piece in a modern way.
Although the film is transposed to Quebec, its context is similar to Hawthorne’s puritan New England: the plot has to take place within a community whose survival, they think, depends on how strongly united they are around their God. A God who sees everything.
And I want to explore what it feels like to try and be your own self while under constant scrutiny. Providence is the very image of an appalling moral conformism that verges onto mass hysteria.
Providence is a dystopia - a utopia that eventually brings alienation and despair instead of happiness. Providence stands somewhere between Carpenter’s Village of the Damned and Haneke’s small town in The White Ribbon. Yet the film’s aesthetics will be much more similar to those of a shadowy fantastic tale than to any lavish historical drama where people speak like books. My characters speak like you and me. And their motivations can be shared by anyone: shame, hate, the fear of losing one’s child...
Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter is not the redemption parable it has been said to be. It shows how Hester becomes aware of the prison she has been living in. Now her awareness is a consequence of her banishment; by estranging her, her persecutors unwillingly allow her to free herself. An irony I find most inspiring and hopeful.

In Providence, God is watching you. And your neighbours are watching too.
Olivier Ciechelski

Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

directed by
Olivier Ciechelski