Part Grimm’s fairy tale, part tone-poem, & part Borgesian riddle, "MADAME" tells the story of a young girl's miseducation at the hands of her dubious, criminally-minded foster mother.

“Like a Warhol film wrapped
in a Bette Davis confection!”
—Kate Moira Ryan, playwright
OTMA, The Motherf**king O’Malleys

  • Kerry Muir
  • Kerry Muir
  • Sean Temple
    Water Horse, The Thaw, Thorns, Hunt, Aster and Sidney, Safe
  • Green Teacup Productions
  • Maggie Rose Mersmann
    Key Cast
    "The Girl"
  • Ann Mayo Muir
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    film noir, experimental, horror
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 22 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 16, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, French
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - City College of San Francisco
Director Biography - Kerry Muir

Kerry Muir is a writer and director living in the Bay Area. As an actress, she was nominated for best actress by LA Weekly for her performance as Hester in Athol Fugard's "Hello and Goodbye" across from Jeff Alan-Lee. As a writer, her plays have received awards and productions from Nantucket Short Play Festival, The Kilroys, Gibraltar International Drama Festival, Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition, The Great Platte River Playwrights' Festival, and elsewhere. Her play "The Night Buster Keaton Dreamed Me" and a one-act for children, "Befriending Bertha," were both published by NoPassport Press in dual-language (English/Spanish) editions as part of NoPassport's "Dreaming the Americas" series, curated by Obie Award-winning playwright, Caridad Svich. A prolific writer of nonfiction, her prose has appeared in Kenyon Review, Crazyhorse, Fourth Genre, West Branch, and elsewhere.

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Director Statement

Not all of my writing pertains to children and teens trying to navigate a baffling and pernicious world—but the truth is: Most of it does. I’m fascinated by the ways children and teens deploy fantasy, imagined experience and outright delusion to cope in the face of extreme adversity.

I’m haunted by the subject of entrapment—both mental and physical—and the ways in which people fight to escape it via the imagination. Obsessions that crop up repeatedly in my work: Characters living on the margins, in severe isolation. Outcasts. Folks who simply don’t belong. Characters who are near-holy in their derangement... wildly damaged, appallingly alone, and violently ill-equipped to love, but who try, anyway. My imagination is frequented by characters personifying Cioran’s "failure on the move”: while they may be headed for the inevitable crash-landing, they still insist on letting their imaginations unfurl-- like splashy, multi-colored parachutes-- to break the pain of the fall.

Movies that affected me profoundly include: The Florida Project; Precious; Pan’s Labyrinth; Jesus’ Son; Laurie Collyer’s Sherrybaby; Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild; Casavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence; Visconti’s Bellissima; Fellini’s La Strada, and his Nights of Cabiria.

Literary works that honed and polished the lens through which I see: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Frank Baum’s Oz books; C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia; Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita; and Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son.


The idea for the film came to me in the Spring of 2018. I was listening to Freya Cellista's sound collage "St. James Park" (from her album, Finding San Jose) and suddenly saw—very clearly, in my mind’s eye—a young girl, small suitcase in hand, waiting for a train. She was alone in the world, en route to an interim foster home where a shady ogre of a woman awaited her arrival. I began to write these two figures down, the girl and the crone… and word by word, scene by scene, the script for "Madame" emerged.

At the time I was enrolled in a beginning film making course at City College of San Francisco and had access to the department's vast stores of equipment, so I plunged in and filmed the script with my aunt and young niece over Spring break. It was a family affair, chaotic and frenzied, shot in my mother’s house, with my sister helping me MacGyver small, impromptu soundstages out of blankets and curtains. We shot late into the wee hours of the night, and then got up early in the mornings to shoot scenes on the train, harvesting over a terabyte of footage in a very short but intense span of time.

During the pandemic and the subsequent advent of Zoom in all our lives, I happened to cross paths in cyberspace with Vermont-based filmmaker and editor Sean Temple (Water Horse, The Thaw, Thorns). I'd been struggling for over a year with an overly-long edit of my own making, and it was clear to me I didn't have the editing chops to bring my vision to fruition. After connecting with Sean (we both shared a love of Maya Deren's "Meshes of the Afternoon," as well as the work of both Nina Menkes and David Lynch), I handed Sean the editing reins, and he became my co-producer, distilling the story down to its essence, paring the edit back radically in length, and pushing the piece further into the dreamlike, subconscious realm from which the original idea for "Madame" first sprung.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and for your consideration.