Céline Sciamma made her name in 2007 with the coming of age/sexual awakening drama, “Water Lilies” which played in Cannes‘ Un Certain Regard section. It also launched the career of French actress Adèle Haenel who was nominated for France’s César Award for Most Promising Actress (and she was nominated for this prize twice, a second time, three years later).
The pair have also been in a romantic relationship for several years as well, but it’s taken 13 years for a proper cinematic reunion** which is ” Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” an intimate and deeply moving period drama that is set for a in-competition premiere at Cannes—one of only four films in competition that are directed by women (** technically, Haenel appeared in her 2010 short “Pauline“).
Here’s the synopsis for ‘Lady On Fire’:
Brittany, France, 1760. Marianne, a painter, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young lady who has just left the convent. Héloïse is a reluctant bride to be and Marianne must paint her without her knowing. She observes her by day and secretly paints her at night. Intimacy and attraction grow between the two women as they share Héloïse’s first and last moments of freedom, all whilst Marianne paints the portrait that will end it all.
Sciamma’s had an award-winning career, winning the Berlin Film Festival’s Jury Prize in 2011 for “Tomboy” and her critically-acclaimed “Girlhood” which ended up on many of best-of year-end list was selected as the Cannes 2014 Directors’ Fortnight Opening Film, but ‘Lady On Fire’ is the first time one of her films has played in competition (the animated film ” My Life as a Zucchini” which she wrote also played Cannes 2016 Directors’ Fortnight and won the Cesar Award for Best Screenplay).
“Portrait of a Lady On Fire” also co-stars, Noémie Merlant and Valeria Golino and many eyes are going to be on this reunion; it’ll be interesting to see how it goes over with the Cannes jury. In the meantime, we can tide ourselves over with the first three clips and a few photos from the movie below.