One of the best surprises of the Berlinale 2021 lineup is that the newest film from Céline Sciamma––marking her fifth feature and first since her widely acclaimed Portrait of a Lady on Fire––is completed after shooting only a few months ago. Details have been sparse when it came to Petite Maman, but now the festival has unveiled a full synopsis, while also revealing a runtime of only 72 minutes.

Starring Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse, Stéphane Varupenne, and Margot Abascal, the film will find Sciamma returning to themes of adolescence, which she explored in different facets in Water Lillies, Tomboy, and Girlhood. Check out the synopsis below via Berlinale’s official site.

Eight-year-old Nelly has just lost her beloved grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods where her mum, Marion, used to play and where she built the treehouse Nelly has heard so much about. One day her mother suddenly leaves. That is when Nelly meets a girl of her own age in the woods, building a treehouse. Her name is Marion.

Taking part in the Berlinale for the second time, Céline Sciamma’s fifth film is a work of great intensity and maturity. Expressed via Claire Mathon’s luminous autumnal cinematography, the director’s gaze explores an important moment in the transition to adulthood with poetic precision. Once again, Sciamma examines the big questions in life from a resolutely female perspective. The power of memory and imagination are explored in a unique, emotionally resonant experience.

Berlinale Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian also discussed the project, saying to Deadline, “It was not just made during the pandemic: it was made possible by the pandemic, because she had some time to make a personal story. It’s a smaller film, though not in ambition, with a gentle touch and magical realism. I don’t want to say anything about the story because it has a twist. But again [like her 2011 film Tomboy, which premiered in Berlin] it is a film that gives a voice to children, she really wanted to play the film at the Berlinale for the kids, which we hope to do in the summer.”

Check back for our review next month.

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