Céline Sciamma

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Céline Sciamma
Céline Sciamma Lumières 2015.jpg
Sciamma in February 2015
Born (1978-11-12) 12 November 1978 (age 40)
Pontoise, Val-d'Oise, France
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
Years active2004–present

Céline Sciamma (born 12 November 1978) is a French screenwriter and film director.

Sciamma's work is strikingly minimalist, partly the legacy of her mentor, Xavier Beauvois, who advised her while she was a student at the major French film school, La Fémis. While highly formalist and idiosyncratic (notably in her lack of dialogue and very stylized mise-en-scene), Sciamma's filmmaking, beginning with Water Lilies relates closely to the characteristics of first-time filmmaking in France, notably in its emphasis on coming-of-age films focused on adolescents or pre-adolescents. Sciamma is very interested, moreover, in the fluidity of gender and sexual identity among girls during this formative period.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Sciamma was raised in Cergy-Pontoise, a suburb outside of Paris.[2] Her father Dominique Sciamma is a software designer, and her brother Laurent Sciamma is a stand-up performer and graphic designer. [3]

Before attending La Fémis, Sciamma studied literature.[4] As a child she was an avid reader and became interested in film as a teenager.[4] 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, persuaded her to make the film.[5] A year after finishing school she began shooting the film in her hometown.[6]

Her 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 2008 César Award for Best Debut, and actresses Adèle Haenel and Louise Blachère were both nominated for the 2008 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’.[5]

Her 2011 film Tomboy was written and shot in a matter of months.[7] Sciamma wrote the script in three weeks, completed casting in three weeks, and shot the film in 20 days.[6] 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. [6]

Her 2014 film Girlhood was selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[8] The film was also played at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. In interviews Sciamma stated that Girlhood would be her last coming-of-age film and she considered it, along with Water Lilies and Tomboy, a trilogy.[9]

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. [10]

Her fourth feature film titled Portrait of a Lady on Fire is set to begin shooting in Autumn 2018 with a anticipated release in 2019. [11]

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

Personal Life[edit]

In 2014, Sciamma was in a relationship with the actress Adele Haenel whom she met on the set of Water Lilies. Haenel publicly acknowledged their relationship in her acceptance speech for her César award in 2014.[13] Their relationship continued as of 2017. [14][15]

Sciamma is a feminist.[16] She participated in the women’s protest against inequality at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival alongside many notable women in film including Agnes Varda.[17]


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

She frequently collaborates with cinematographer Crystel Fournier. [18]

She is noted for casting non-professional actors in her films.

Sciamma has said that fashion and style form an important part of characterization which is why though uncredited, she works as the costume designer for all her films.[19]


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Screenwriter
2004 Les Premières Communions Yes Short film
2006 Cache ta joie Yes Short film
2007 Water Lilies 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 Festival - Teddy Jury Award[20]
Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema - FIPRESCI Prize
Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema - SIGNIS Award
Prix Jacques Prévert du Scénario for Best Original Screenplay
2012 The Returned Yes TV series
2014 Bird People Yes Screenplay consultant
2014 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
2014 Young Tiger Yes Storyline consultant
2016 Being 17 Yes
2016 My Life as a Zucchini Yes César Award for Best Adaptation
Lumières Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated—Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated Feature Production
2017 Le Vent tourne Yes Collaborating writer
2019 Portrait of A Lady on Fire Yes Yes Filming

Further Readings[edit]

  • Wilson, Emma. "Scenes of Hurt and Rapture: Céline Sciamma's Girlhood" in Film Quarterly, Vol. 70 No. 3, Spring 2017; (pp. 10-22)
  • Palmer, Tim., and Michael, Charlie. Directory of World Cinema. France Bristol, UK ;: Intellect, 2013.


  1. ^ Palmer, Tim (2011). Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema, Wesleyan University Press, Middleton CT. ISBN 0-8195-6827-9.
  2. ^ Romney, Jonathan. "The stars of Girlhood: 'Our poster is all over Paris, with four black faces on it…'". Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  3. ^ Branquart, Victor. "Laurent Sciamma : meilleur espoir". Standard Magazine. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b Jenkins, David. "Celine Sciamma:interview". TimeOut London. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b Lambies, Josep. "Céline Sciamma talks 'Tomboy'". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Hunt, Rosy. "INTERVIEW WITH CÉLINE SCIAMMA". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  7. ^ Silverstein, Melissa. "Interview with Celine Sciamma: Writer/Director of Tomboy BLOGS". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2014 lineup unveiled". Screendaily. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  9. ^ Blay, Zeba. "Interview: 'Girlhood' Director Celine Sciamma on Race, Gender & the Universality of the Story". Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  10. ^ Kopiejwski, Faustine. ""Quand on a 17 ans": Céline Sciamma au scénario du nouveau film d'André Téchiné". CheekMagazine. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Nouveau Conseil d'administration de la Société des réalisateurs de films 2017-2018". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  13. ^ Jonathen Romney (4 December 2016). "Adele Haenel, Recycling cliches is a sign that a film lacks courage". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Une Bien Belle Vie de Courgette". L'Avenir. 2 October 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Famous Lesbian Couples Whose Relationships We Applaud". PagalParrot. 2017-02-09. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  16. ^ Hatim, Houssam. "Céline Sciamma, ou le cinéma au centre de la lutte féministe". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  17. ^ Nayeri, Farah. "Women Rally on Cannes Red Carpet to Highlight Gender Inequality". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  18. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.

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