Céline Sciamma is not yet done exploring the uncertainties of childhood — while 2019’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was a love story between adults, the French filmmaker’s previous films, “Water Lilies,” “Tomboy,” and “Girlhood,” all offered portrayals of adolescence or preadolescence. And now her latest film, “Petite Maman,” is ready to continue that trend.
As previously reported, the film follows eight-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) who — while exploring the woods around where her mom, Marion (Nina Meurisse), grew up — encounters and befriends another girl her own age, also called Marion (Gabrielle Sanz). The title, which means “Little Mom,” and the casting of twins in the two young roles both suggest the name coincidence is not so coincidental.
Now a newly released trailer, revealed by Empire, offers a preview of what we can expect from this gentle fairytale adventure, which made its premiere at the Berlinale earlier this year.
In the spot, we see that Nelly, whose grandmother has recently died, is left with even more questions about life when her mother leaves soon after. It’s then that Nelly befriends the young girl sharing her mother’s name and a striking resemblance to herself. We see the girls make pancakes, build forest forts, and go boating on the lake. “Are you scared that I might not come back?” young Marion asks Nelly.
In an interview with IndieWire, Sciamma explained how the coronavirus pandemic had influenced the story, which opens with a scene set in a nursing home: “How many grandmothers had died in nursing homes without their goodbyes?” she recalls thinking. “It felt valid, and even more urgent, to have this film that was coping with loss. It was a tool for the imagination. We need those to dream of the future.”
Sciamma took home Cannes Film Festival’s Best Screenplay award for “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which went on to become one of the most acclaimed films of the year, also earning a BAFTA nod. Her other credits include the screenplay for stop-motion animation “My Life as a Zucchini,” and she is one of several writers on upcoming film “Paris, 13th District.”
“Petite Maman” opens in U.K. theaters November 19 before arriving on Mubi in early 2022. Neon has acquired the North American rights to the film — there’s no word of a release date yet, though the film will screen at TIFF and New York Film Festival this fall.