From the Flanders (i) magazine

Spider Mom

Director Patrice Toye is speeding up. There was a 10-year gap between her debut Rosie (1998) and her second feature Nowhere Man (2008). Now, three years later, she’s back with a new feature. Little Black Spiders is a project she has been mulling over since 2003, when she first heard the story about a hospital attic ward in Lommel where pregnant teenagers could have their babies in secrecy. This was in the 1970s, when abortion was still illegal in Belgium. ‘They came from all over in the country,’ she says.

Patrice Toye portrait

When Toye first had the idea for Little Black Spiders, she knew it was very strong but she was determined not to hurry. Taking her time, she wrote the screenplay together with Ina Vandewijer. ‘For five years, first very slowly and then quite intensely, we worked on the script. I couldn’t say which word is mine and which word is hers!’

Over the seven or so years they worked on the screenplay, Toye and Vandewijer met ‘victims’ who had had their babies taken away from them. They investigated the story of the sister who turned the ward into a profitable business, selling on the teenage girls’ babies for adoption. They worked out just where in France the girls were actually taken to give birth. ‘In Belgium, there is no way of giving birth anonymously. The name of the mother of the baby is always registered,’ she explains.

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Published on Wednesday 8 February 2012

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