How “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” became a “movie dedicated to love”

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The last film by the writer and director Céline Sciamma “Portrait of a lady on fire” is many things: a look at equality, a love story, a passionate romance between two women in 18th France century. But for the filmmaker herself, she hoped it could be even more. Sciamma made sure to also focus her attention on the audience of the film, whom she hopes she sees and experiences the experience of falling in love with.

“I really wanted to embody, with the tools of the cinema, what it is to fall in love with. And for the audience to participate in that process, of course with their mind, but also with their bodies,” Sciamma told entertainment writer Mark Olsen in This week’s episode of the “The Reel” podcast. “And then, it means, yes, to believe a lot in the cinema and also to believe in the viewer as someone active and engaged in the movie.”

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” won the best screenplay and the Queer Palm Award when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. Prior to this film, her three previous films have been perceived as a trilogy focused on teenage stories . Now, years later, Sciamma wants “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” to explore something different.

“I really wanted to talk about love, a love that would be lived fully. While in my previous films there was always a love interest, there was always a strong increase in desire, but it was mainly about discovering yourself. And I wanted that new interaction where it would be about discovering someone else, they were discovering the other, ”said Sciamma.

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While his previous projects contain similar themes centered on love, “Portrait” is the first time that Sciamma moves away from the contemporary and modern environment and takes the public to the past, at 18th century.

“I don’t have a particular taste for period pieces,” Sciamma said. “Actually, I saw it as the same job because cinema is always a reconstitution. It is a reconstitution of the contemporary world, and a period piece is about a reconstitution of the past. Therefore, it does the same job, with a higher level of intervention. “

Sciamma says he has made 14 movie releases in Europe so far, before traveling to promote it in the United States. And she tells Olsen that she appreciates the trip.

“It’s a strong emotional journey, promoting a” Portrait, “he said. “I never get bored. It never becomes mechanical, because you know the audience and you see the audience knowing the movie. And that is something I find really beautiful.”

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is widely published on Valentine’s Day 2020.

Watch other episodes of “The Reel” here


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