This week’s spotlight is dedicated to Céline Sciamma, one of the best French female film directors of the last years. Céline fell in love with cinema when she was a teenager and started going to her town’s arthouse theatre three times a week, where she got an interested in reading film scripts and biographies of filmmakers. Céline pursued her studies in screenwriting at the major French film school – la Fémis.
In 2007 she used her thesis screenplay to direct her first feature film WATER LILIES (Naissance des pieuvres) which was showcased at Cannes 2007 in the “Un certain regard” section, was rewarded of the 2007 Louis-Delluc Prize for first film and secured three nominations for the 2008 César Awards. WATER LILIES focuses on the complexes of adolescence and problematic approaches to sexuality, themes that are recalled in her second feature TOMBOY (2011).
TOMBOY, again both written and directed by Céline, was shot within 20 days on a small budget and with a crew of just fifteen people, but the work is flawless and shows Céline’s obsession for aesthetics. The film tells a story of a little girl that decides to pretend to be a boy when she meets a new group of friends. The sensitive subject, narrated with a refreshing simplicity and naivety, raised the debate of studying the sexual gender in the French schools. TOMBOY achieved a wide consent among the public and the critics; it was released in more than 30 countries and won the Jury award at the 2011 Teddy Awards for the best film with LGBT themes at the Berlin film festival 2011.
Her third movie GIRLHOOD (Bande de filles), released in France October 22th, moves the focus from the French bourgeois middle-class to the underprivileged black girls of the suburbs of Paris. The movie made its world première this year at the Directors’ Fortnight of Cannes Film Festival, was presented in September at Venice Days as one of the competitors for the LUX Film Prize, and will be showcased in these days at Toronto International Film Festival and at London Film Festival next month.
GIRLHOOD combines an irresistible soundtrack (made of electro and hip-hop pieces, including Rihanna’s Diamonds) and an elegant photography that opens the eyes to the harsh banlieues of Paris, where the heroine of the movie, played by Karidja Touré, has to face the peer pressure and sees her life degenerating after joining a “gang of girls”. A powerful movie that, like LA HAINE, screens the rugged youth of the unprivileged in the suburbs, while making the audience deeply know and psychoanalyze the main character.