Sarah Winchester, Phantom Opera

Sarah Winchester, opéra fantôme

Bertrand Bonello – charmer of nocturnal genii loci and helmer of the shadowy realms of past and future – responded to a commission from the Opéra National de Paris with a cinematic flourish that embraces the metaphysics of space and of dead time while exorcising the curse of a legendary figure: Sarah Winchester, widow of the heir to the firearm manufacturing company of the same surname that gave the world the first repeating rifle, put to the test during the American Civil War and the subjugation of indigenous populations. The story goes that when Sarah lost her child to a wasting disease and her husband to tuberculosis, she visited a medium who instructed her to build a home to house the spirits of her loved ones – a plan to which she sacrificed all her resources, and her own life too, since she died the day the final brick was set in place. According to Bonello’s story, cinema and the performing arts have nothing to offer but rehearsals that give an insight into the architecture of unfulfillment, and an intermittent connection to the souls that watch us from behind the curtain, even after its final fall.
Screening Schedule

No physical screenings scheduled.

Direction: Bertrand Bonello
Cinematography: Irina Lubtchansky
Editing: Fabrice Rouaud
Sound: Jean Paul Mugel
Actors: Reda Kateb, Marie Agnès Gillot
Production: My New Picture, Opéra National de Paris
Producers: Bertrand Bonello
Executive producer: Judith Lou Lévy
Format: ProRes
Color: Color
Production Country: France
Production Year: 2016
Duration: 24'
Contact: Bertrand Bonello

Bertrand Bonello

Bertrand Bonello was born in Nice, in 1968. He began his career in music, participating in numerous artists’ albums, before turning to cinema and directing. His first feature film, Something Organic, was presented at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival. His feature film The Pornographer (2001), was presented at the Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week and was awarded the FIPRESCI prize. In 2003, Tiresia was selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s official competition. Then he directed On War, selected at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2008. In 2011, his feature film House of Tolerance was presented in Cannes’ official competition. Praised by the critics, it received eight nominations for the French César awards. In 2014, he directed Saint Laurent, which also was selected in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie represented France at the Academy Awards and received ten César nominations. The same year, he exhibited at the Pompidou Center, which dedicated a film retrospective to his work, and released a music album: Accidents. In 2016, Nocturama premiered at TIFF and San Sebastian. Zombie Child, his next feature, was selected at Cannes Film Festival / Directors Fortnight in 2019, while COMA premiered at Berlinale in 2022. His latest feature is Beast, screened in competition at Venice (2023).


1998 Something Organic
2001 The Pornographer
2003 Tiresia
2008 On War
2011 House of Tolerance
2014 Saint Laurent
2016 Nocturama
2019 Zombi Child
2022 Coma
2023 The Beast