By Sascha Krieger
Petite Maman (Competition / France / Director: Céline Sciamma)
When her grandmother dies, 8-year-old Nelly gets to empty her old house with her parents. After the sudden departure of her mother, nelly finds a new companion with whom she has more in common than she expects. Paintes in gentle, slightly fading autumn colours, Petite Maman embarks on a quiet journey of self-discovery and the exploration of what it means to be a family, treading the awkward line between finding one’s individual identity and forging the connection with others. While the dialogue often appears beyond the years of those who speak it, it as well as the crossing of lines between the real and the imagines, the past and the present (or is it the future?) feels entirely natural, being narrated in a loconic, naturalistic way, the camera a close, but somewhat detached observer, a neutral eye, not wondering about what it sees but accepting it as a journey of discovery, a first step towards growing up. A keen observer of childhood, director Céline Sciamma brings tenderness as well as a sceptical distance to her story and protagonists. What blooms in the struggling light of the aging year, is not spectacular but it spans all ages, all lives while never abandoning the personal, individual stories it tells. A fleeting glimps, a deeply moving miniature, a great film in the best sense.