Céline Sciamma as writer and director is peculiarly attentive to sensory detail, what things feel like, how they can be touched. This attention can be felt through her collaborative work with director of photography Crystel Fournier, who has worked on all of Sciamma's films to date in a creative collaboration proving just as electric as that between Claire Denis and Agnès Godard. Reflecting on her work to date, linking Girlhood to the earlier films, Didier Péron and Elisabeth Franck-Dumas wrote in Libération that Sciamma makes real the body and emotions of individuals in all their singularity. Intimacy is her real subject in Girlhood. The particular issue in relation to intimacy Sciamma pursues, from Water Lilies on, is that of hurt. She is a filmmaker who in her bodily, affective filmmaking has paid attention to hurt, to abrasion, and to vulnerability; she makes them all part of the robust, adrenaline-pumped feminist politics that pervade her films and their characters. It is this mode of making real—this feeling alive—that Wilson explores in this essay.
Scenes of Hurt and Rapture: Céline Sciamma's Girlhood
Emma Wilson is Professor of French Literature and the Visual Arts at the University of Cambridge and a contributing editor to Film Quarterly. She is the author of Love, Mortality and the Moving Image (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). She is currently writing “The Reclining Nude,” a study of Agnès Varda, Catherine Breillat, and Nan Goldin.
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Emma Wilson; Scenes of Hurt and Rapture: Céline Sciamma's Girlhood. Film Quarterly 1 March 2017; 70 (3): 10–22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2017.70.3.10
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