This year’s Silver Bear for Best Director may have been awarded to Dénes Nagy for his absorbing Hungarian WWII drama Natural Light, but many felt that French filmmaker Céline Sciamma should have nabbed the prize for the follow-up to her stunning Portrait Of A Lady On Fire.
Petite Maman is a transportive autumnal reverie that steals your heart in the space of a lean 72 minutes. It tells the story of an eight-year-old girl (Joséphine Sanz), whose grandmother has just passed away, and who encounters a young version of her mother (Gabrielle Sanz) in the woods outside of her adult mother’s childhood home. Its fantastical premise has hints of magical realism and translates into a timeless fable that toys with classic fairy-tale imagery to beautifully explore the grieving process and articulate the importance of the fleeting moment.
Sciamma described it as a “time-travelling film without the time-travelling machine”, and while it’s undoubtedly a more low-stakes affair within her filmography (it was filmed towards the end of 2020 following the lifting of France’s lockdown restrictions), it’s by no means less affecting than her previous films. It certainly deserved better than to leave the Berlinale empty handed.
Screening at the Berlinale Summer Special on:
June 15 @ Freiluftkino Museumsinsel
June 16 @ Freiluftkino Friedrichshain & Freiluftkino Biesdorfer Parkbühne