Set in the bucolic Calabrian countryside, this intimate and elegantly rendered romantic drama about family, faith, and freedom is the directorial debut of veteran French actor Stéphane Freiss. An ultra-Orthodox family has arrived in the south of Italy from their home in eastern France to assist with the annual harvest of the citron fruits used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Among them is Esther (Lou de Laâge), a rabbi’s daughter who is increasingly dissatisfied with her life, chafing at the bonds of her religious upbringing and resentful of her imminent arranged marriage. When she meets and feels a growing attraction for the farm’s owner, Elio (Riccardo Scamarcio), she dares to imagine a different, potentially happier path for herself. Where Life Begins is an intelligent and honest depiction of the pain of questioning one’s faith and community that offers no easy answers.

Watch our Q&A with Stéphane Freiss: