Actress, writer and director Mélanie Laurent brings her powerful adapted screenplay “The Mad Women’s Ball”, based on the novel Le bal des folles by Victoria Mas, to the Toronto International Film Festival.

Laurent talks about what initially drew her to create the adapted screenplay, telling ET Canada she was “obsessed” with the book by Mas: “I was working on the beginning of a script about the witches in the middle age and that producer called me and told me about the book.”

She says she found Mas’ novel “so amazingly structured and everything was there already in the book.” Laurent explains that her script on the witches had similar underlying subjects: “You find exactly the same kind of horrifying story about women.”

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Laurent stars in the film as Geneviève and opens up about how she thinks her character “is very rigid, but also very generous and she really believes in science and she really believed that she served that hospital. She doesn’t see that she’s humiliated every single day.”

The themes of denial and loss are a big part of the film, with Laurent talking about how her character “has difficulty recovering from a loss and that loss makes her miserable. The patient Eugenie gives her the possibility of looking at things differently and something bigger.”

Eugenie opens her mind and her spirit and her heart just a little bit more. And she goes for it, that’s the beauty of that character. She just needed someone to teach her.”

And Laurent says she’s “happy and honoured to be back at TIFF,” revealing that she feels “extremely lucky to have my film screened at a big international film festival.”

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On TIFF’s Share Her Journey, the filmmaker says “the big revolution women started three years ago,” explaining though that she feels “like we forgot about women in certain countries.”

Laurent goes on to say that “women filmmakers in their jobs have a voice back and some space and some respect – even if it is forced, there is more respect.”

But she says “we left behind those women in Afghanistan, the ongoing rape crisis in India and many other big countries where women are not free and suffer every second.”

Adding, “The least we can do, as free women with the ability to make movies… [is] to tell stories about those women… and to never forget them.”