SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL – PETITE MAMAN

Rating: PG
Length: 72 mins
Cast: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse

Céline Sciamma’s follow-up to Portrait of a Lady on Fire (SFF 2019) and Tomboy (SFF 2011) is an evocative and magical tale of mothers and daughters. In Competition, Berlinale 2021.

Sciamma’s previous films, including her script for My Life as a Zucchini (SFF 2017), have often focussed on pivotal childhood phases. In her latest, eight-year-old Nelly says a solemn goodbye to the residents of the nursing home where her grandmother recently died. Then she and her mother Marion head to her grandmother’s home to clear out her belongings. The rambling house surrounded by trees was also Marion’s childhood home. Nelly ventures into the woods hoping to find the treehouse that her mother built as a child. There she meets a girl her own age – also called Marion – and the pair form an uncanny bond. The evocative cinematography by Claire Mathon (award winner for Portrait of a Lady on Fire) gives Petite Maman a fairytale-like quality, underlined by the young actors’ magical performances, that speaks to the timelessness of Sciamma’s themes.

Céline Sciamma studied French literature and then screenwriting in Paris. Her debut feature Water Lilies premiered at Cannes in 2007; her second, Tomboy, screened in the Berlinale and won the Teddy Jury Award. Girlhood screened in Cannes and won numerous international awards. Portrait of a Lady on Fire premiered in competition at Cannes and again won numerous prizes.