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Entries in Celine Sciamma (5)


Interview: Céline Sciamma on "My Life as a Zucchini" and life after "Girlhood"

The past couple of years have featured many conversations about the need for fresh voices of all races and genders and sexual orientations in the movies. Consider it a healthy sign for the future that when this conversation comes up, there are dozens and dozens of young directors out there to champion. Certainly one of the most exciting newish female writer/directors working is Céline Sciamma in France. In the past ten years she's established herself as a revelatory voice in the genre of coming-of-age films, starting with her César nominated debut Water Lilies (2007) and reaching a new level of critical interest and popularity with Girlhood (2014). But, in something of a left turn -- which she says is no left turn at all -- she hasn't been behind the camera this past year but behind the screenplays of two acclaimed pictures.

She cowrote Andre Techine's well received LGBT film Being 17 and this past weekend her latest film, her first to win an Oscar nomination, My Life as a Zucchini, opened in US theaters. You should definitely go see it. She adapted the screenplay for this charming melancholy story about orphans hoping to find a home from a novel by Gilles Paris. Our interview is after the jump...

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Women's Pictures - Celine Sciamma's Girlhood

In Yes Please, Amy Poehler writes,

If you ever want to see heaven, watch a bunch of young girls play. They are all sweat and skinned knees. Energy and open faces.

Celine Sciamma's 2014 film Girlhood opens with just such a small slice of heaven: a group of French teenage girls play American football in an empty stadium. Unobserved by outside eyes, the girls throw, and tackle, and sprint. If not for the flashes of eyeliner and braids peaking out of their helmets, you'd be hardpressed to figure out who these young athletes were at all. This brief but intense scene is the last time these young women will be so carefree and unwatched. The rest of Sciamma's film is about growing up watched and watching, as one girl tries to break free of the constraints placed on her by class, gender, and race.

Marieme is a tall, shy tomboy living in the outskirts of Paris. Played with openfaced observance by Karidja Touré, Marieme is a frustrated dreamer. Told by her counselor that she doesn't have the grades for 2 years of high school, she leaves school rather than accepting vocational training. [More...]

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Women's Pictures - Celine Sciamma's Tomboy

A young boy moves to a new town with his family. He's a goofball, a caring older sibling, and a shy kid. On his first day on the block, he runs into a girl and introduces himself as Mikael. She introduces herself as Lisa, and invites him to play a game of tag with her friends. Later, as he's taking a bath with his younger sister, his mother calls him Laure. She laughs and tells them: "Girls, get out of the bath!" It's almost 20 minutes into the movie before Celine Sciamma upends the expectations of her audience. In Tomboy, Sciamma examines how identity is constructed through performance in childhood, specifically in regards to gender.

The main character of Sciamma's 2011 film is still in that period before hormones kick in when all kids are basically agender in appearance. What separates genders from each other is how they move and how they present themselves.

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Women's Pictures - Celine Sciamma's Water Lilies

Those who say, "I wish I was young," probably don't remember just how painful being young can be. French female filmmaker Celine Sciamma remembers, and she brings the hopes and pains of early teenagers to the screen in her 2007 directorial debut. Water Lilies is an uncomfortable movie to watch as an adult. Teenagers are sometimes naked and often sexual; two things American try to avoid in our mainstream depictions of 14 and 15 year old girls. However, though Water Lilies is about young female sexuality, the young females are not sexualized. At least, not by Celine Sciamma's camera. It's an important distinction, because the film will be uncomfortably familiar to anyone who remembers their first friends, first loves, first lusts, and the heartbreaks that come from each.

Water Lilies circles around the awakening of two girls from the French suburbs. Anne (Louise Blachere) is a big-boned synchronized swimmer whose weight and clumsiness put her in the lowest ranks of the team, socially and competitively. Her best friend is Marie (Pauline Acquart), a slight, mousy tomboy who says little but watches everything. They play with Happy Meals with toy spyglasses and spit water at each other for fun like kids do, but they're also beginning to develop feelings: Anne for Francois, the captain of the boy's water polo team, and Marie for the star of the synchronized swimmers, a beautiful girl with a bad reputation named Floriane (Adele Haenel). Unlike Marie and Anne, Floriane understands what desire is, or at least how to recognize when someone desires her. She's known since the adult swim coach started chasing her around the room. What Floriane doesn't know is what she herself wants.  [More...]

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Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Pariah

Anne Marie returns after a brief break...

Over the course of this year, the purpose of our weekly "Women's Pictures" has been to explore the vast variety of female filmmakers. We've seen that women are not only present and working, but also highly diverse in their genre, style, and subject matter. Gender has often been a factor, but it has rarely been a focus. For the last month of the year, we're going to be watching films by two directors for whom gender, sexuality, and race are their focus: Dee Rees, and Celine Sciamma. Though both filmmakers have comparatively small filmographies, they have already established themselves as new, strong voices in contemporary cinema.

Dee Rees's 2011 film Pariah, based on the short of the same name, is an empathetic examination of a person usually invisible in cinema: the young black lesbian.


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