Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a lady on fire” enters the cannon

NEON and The Criterion Collection have announced the addition of Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” to The Criterion Collection library. The Cannes winner was recently nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Language Film, nominated by the Hollywood Critics Association for Best Foreign Language Film and was awarded Best Cinematography by the New York Film Critics.

In this year’s Cannes report, I wrote, “This deeply moving film has much going for it, particularly a riveting performance by Noémie Merlant who is pitch-perfect in the character’s confrontation of the period’s conventions and the restrictions placed on women.” (read the full Screen Comment at the Cannes Festival review of Célina Sciamma’s “Portrait of the Lady on Fire”)

The film is set in France in 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women circle around each other, their attraction for each other grows as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse’s portrait soon becomes a testament to their love.

Peter Becker, President of The Criterion Collection commented, “Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire took our breath away when we first saw it at Telluride, and we are ecstatic that we will be able to give the film the loving special edition treatment it deserves.”

NEON added, “We couldn’t be more thrilled that our first collaboration with The Criterion Collection is Céline’s breathtakingly beautiful and utterly captivating Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

NEON is a film production outfit that is behind such films as Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” and “APOLLO 11,” among others.

Visit The Criterion Collection (home video distribution site)

Peter Becker

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