Sciamma in February 2017
|Alma mater||La Fémis|
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. A common theme in Sciamma's films is the fluidity of gender and sexual identity among girls during this formative period.
Early Life and education
Sciamma was raised in Cergy-Pontoise, a suburb outside of Paris. Her father, Dominique Sciamma, is a software designer, and her brother, Laurent Sciamma, is a stand-up performer and graphic designer.
Before attending La Fémis, Sciamma studied literature. As a child, she was an avid reader and became interested in film as a teenager. 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. A year after finishing school, she began shooting the film in her hometown.
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’.
Her 2011 film Tomboy was written and shot in a matter of months. Sciamma wrote the script in three weeks, completed casting in three weeks, and shot the film in 20 days. 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.
Her 2014 film Girlhood was selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. 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.
Since 2015, Sciamma has served as the co-president of the SRF (Society of Film Directors).
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.
Her fourth feature film titled Portrait of a Lady on Fire began shooting in autumn 2018. The film premiered In Competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Queer Palm and the award for Best Screenplay.
Sciamma is a feminist. She was one of the first signatories 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.
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.
In 2014, Sciamma was in a relationship with the actress Adèle 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. Their relationship continued as of 2017.
Sciamma frequently collaborates with Para One who has scored all her films and who has directed scripts written by Sciamma in the past.
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.
- List of female film and television directors
- List of lesbian filmmakers
- List of LGBT-related films directed by women
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