Céline Sciamma

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Céline Sciamma
Céline Sciamma 2017.jpg
Sciamma in February 2017
Born (1978-11-12) 12 November 1978 (age 42)
Pontoise, France
Alma materLa Fémis
Years active2004–present

Céline Sciamma (French: [selin sjama];[1] born 12 November 1978) is a French screenwriter and film director.[2] A common theme in Sciamma's films is the fluidity of gender and sexual identity among girls and women.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Sciamma was raised in Cergy-Pontoise, a suburb outside of Paris.[4] Her father, Dominique Sciamma, is a software designer, and her brother, Laurent Sciamma, is a stand-up performer and graphic designer.[5]

Before attending La Fémis, the première French film school, Sciamma studied literature.[6] As a child, she was an avid reader and became interested in film as a teenager.[6] She wrote her first original script for Water Lilies as part of her final evaluation at La Fémis. Xavier Beauvois, who was chairman of the evaluation panel, and could be considered as her mentor, persuaded her to make the film.[7] A year after finishing school, she began shooting the film in her hometown.[8]


Sciamma's debut film, Water Lilies, was selected for screening in the section Un certain regard at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. The film secured three nominations for the 2008 César Awards; Sciamma was nominated for the César Award for Best Debut, and actresses Adèle Haenel and Louise Blachère were both nominated for the César Award for Most Promising Actress.

Sciamma directed her first short film, Pauline, in 2009 as part of a government anti-homophobia campaign called ‘Five films against homophobia’.[7]

Her 2011 film Tomboy was written and shot in a matter of months.[9] Sciamma wrote the script in three weeks, completed casting in three weeks, and shot the film in 20 days.[8] It premiered at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section of the festival. The film was shown in French schools as part of an educational program.[8]

Her 2014 film Girlhood was selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[10] It also played at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. In interviews, Sciamma said that Girlhood would be her last coming-of-age film and that she considered it, Water Lilies and Tomboy a trilogy.[11]

Since 2015, Sciamma has served as the co-president of the SRF (Society of Film Directors).[12]

In between directing her own films, Sciamma continues to work as a screenwriter for other directors. She was sought after by André Téchiné, whose work Sciamma admired as a youth, to co-write the screenplay for his 2016 film Being 17.[13]

Sciamma's fourth feature film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, began shooting in autumn 2018.[14] It premiered In Competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay.[15]

Sciamma shot her fifth feature, Petite Maman, in the fall of 2020 and it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2021.

Sciamma co-wrote Paris, 13th District alongside Jacques Audiard and Léa Mysius.[16]


Sciamma is a feminist.[17] She was a founding member of the French branch of the 5050 by 2020 movement, a group of French film industry professionals advocating for gender parity in film by the year 2020.[18][19]

Celine Sciamma uses her platform to speak about the restrictions of the male gaze and present movies that elevate the female gaze.[20]

In 2018, she co-organized and participated in the women's protest against inequality at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival alongside many notable women in film including Agnès Varda, Ava DuVernay, Cate Blanchett and Léa Seydoux.[21]

At the premiere of her film Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, both Sciamma and lead actress Adèle Haenel wore 50/50 pins in support of the movement.[22]

In 2020 Sciamma and the Portrait of a Lady on Fire team joined lead actress Adèle Haenel in walking out of the 45th César Awards after Roman Polanski won the award for Best Director.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Céline Sciamma is a lesbian.[24] In 2014, Adèle Haenel publicly acknowledged that she was in a relationship with Sciamma in her acceptance speech for her César award.[25] The two had met on the set of the 2007 film Water Lilies and started dating sometime after. The couple parted ways, amicably, sometime before the 2018 filming of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which Haenel starred in.[26]


Sciamma frequently collaborates with Para One, who has scored all her films and directed scripts by Sciamma in the past.

She frequently collaborates with cinematographer Crystel Fournier, who also did the cinematography for Sciamma's Girlhood trilogy.[27]

She is noted for casting non-professional actors in her films. She also frequently casts actress Adèle Haenel, who appeared in Water Lilies, Pauline, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Sciamma has said that fashion and style form an important part of characterization, which is why, though uncredited, she is often the costume designer for her films.[28]

Sciamma has cited David Lynch as a heavy influence, along with seeing Virginia Woolf as "the greatest novelist" and Chantal Akerman as "one of the most important filmmakers".[29]


Year Title Director Writer Actor Notes
2004 Les Premières Communions Yes Short film
2006 Cache ta joie Yes Short film
2007 Water Lilies Yes Yes Yes Louis Delluc Prize for Best First Film
Cabourg Film Festival – Youth Jury Prize
Nominated – César Award for Best First Feature Film
Nominated – Caméra d'Or (2007 Cannes Film Festival)
Nominated – Prix Un Certain Regard (2007 Cannes Film Festival)
2009 Pauline Yes Short film
2010 Ivory Tower Yes
2011 Tomboy Yes Yes Berlin International Film FestivalTeddy Jury Award[30]
Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent CinemaFIPRESCI Prize
Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent CinemaSIGNIS Award
Prix Jacques Prévert du Scénario for Best Original Screenplay
2014 Bird People Yes Screenplay consultant
Mademoiselle Yes Role: Fille boîte; Short film
Girlhood Yes Yes Kermode Award for Best Director
Stockholm International Film Festival – Best Film
Lumières Awards – Special Jury Prize
Nominated – César Award for Best Director
Nominated – European Parliament Lux Prize
Nominated – Lumières Award for Best Film
Nominated – Lumières Award for Best Director
Young Tiger Yes Storyline consultant
2016 Being 17 Yes
My Life as a Courgette Yes César Award for Best Adaptation
Lumières Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated – Annie Award for Writing in a Feature Production
2018 With the Wind Yes Collaborating writer
2019 Portrait of a Lady on Fire Yes Yes Best Screenplay Award (Cannes Film Festival)
Queer Palm (Cannes Film Festival)
Lumières Award for Best Cinematography
César Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Nominated – César Award for Best Director
Nominated – Lumières Award for Best Film
Nominated – Lumières Award for Best Director
Nominated – Best Film Not in the English Language (BAFTA)
2021 Petite Maman Yes Yes
Paris, 13th District Yes Collaborating writer

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "L'interview popcorns de Celine Sciamma". SensCritique. 18 September 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Céline Sciamma : biographie, actualités et émissions France Culture". France Culture (in French). Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  3. ^ Palmer, Tim (2011). Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema, Wesleyan University Press, Middleton CT. ISBN 0-8195-6827-9.
  4. ^ Romney, Jonathan (26 April 2015). "The stars of Girlhood: 'Our poster is all over Paris, with four black faces on it…'". Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  5. ^ Branquart, Victor (7 May 2012). "Laurent Sciamma : meilleur espoir". Standard Magazine. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b Jenkins, David. "Celine Sciamma:interview". TimeOut London. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b Lambies, Josep. "Céline Sciamma talks 'Tomboy'". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Hunt, Rosy (15 September 2011). "INTERVIEW WITH CÉLINE SCIAMMA". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  9. ^ Silverstein, Melissa. "Interview with Celine Sciamma: Writer/Director of Tomboy BLOGS". Archived from the original on 14 September 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2014 lineup unveiled". Screendaily. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  11. ^ Blay, Zeba. "Interview: 'Girlhood' Director Celine Sciamma on Race, Gender & the Universality of the Story". Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Nouveau Conseil d'administration de la Société des réalisateurs de films 2017-2018". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  13. ^ Kopiejwski, Faustine. ""Quand on a 17 ans": Céline Sciamma au scénario du nouveau film d'André Téchiné". CheekMagazine. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  14. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie. "mk2 launches sales on Céline Sciamma's 'Portrait of A Lady On Fire', Porumboiu's 'The Passenger' (exclusive)". Screendaily. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  15. ^ Richford, Rhonda (24 May 2019). "Cannes: 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' Takes Queer Palm Prize". Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  16. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (23 September 2020). "Jacques Audiard's New Film 'Les Olympiades' Shooting Near Paris With Celine Sciamma Co-Writing (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  17. ^ Hatim, Houssam. "Céline Sciamma, ou le cinéma au centre de la lutte féministe". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  18. ^ "THE SIGNATORIES". Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Céline Sciamma: 'In France, they don't find the film hot. They think it lacks flesh, it's not erotic'". 21 February 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Portrait of a Lady on Fire director Céline Sciamma on her ravishing romantic masterpiece". 19 February 2020.
  21. ^ Nayeri, Farah (12 May 2018). "Women Rally on Cannes Red Carpet to Highlight Gender Inequality". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  22. ^ Cotton, Johnny (20 May 2019). "'Lady on Fire' by female promise Sciamma sets Cannes ablaze". Reuters. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  23. ^ Willsher, Kim (March 2020). "Polanski's 'Oscar' divides elite world of French cinema". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  24. ^ Robertson, Jessica (July 9, 2008). "Interview: Director Celine Sciamma Makes a Splash at Cannes with Water Lilies". GO. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  25. ^ Romney, Jonathen (4 December 2016). "Adele Haenel, Recycling cliches is a sign that a film lacks courage". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  26. ^ Erbland, Kate (December 5, 2019). "'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' Filmmaker Céline Sciamma Is Trying to Break Your Heart". IndieWire. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  27. ^ Barbier, Brigitte. "La directrice de la photographie Crystel Fournier, AFC, parle de son travail sur "Bande de filles", de Céline Sciamma". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  29. ^ Dozol, Vincent (13 February 2020). "CÈLINE SCIAMMA: THE FRENCH DIRECTOR WINNING OVER U.S. CRITICS". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  30. ^ Warbler, Daniel (2 June 2014). "THE OUT TAKE: 10 FANTASTIC TEDDY AWARD-WINNING LGBT FILMS TO WATCH RIGHT NOW". mtv.com. Retrieved 9 September 2018.

Further reading[edit]

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