CFP: Contemporary Directors Symposium: Celine Sciamma

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
University of Sussex


CFP: University of Sussex Contemporary Directors Symposium: Céline Sciamma

School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex


Keynote Speaker: Professor Emma Wilson, University of Cambridge

May 6th 2020

The premiere of Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival confirmed director and screenwriter, Céline Sciamma, as one of the foremost voices in contemporary French cinema. In its exploration of the filmic gaze, and portrayal of an intense relationship between three women, this period drama displays many of Sciamma’s signature preoccupations. But Sciamma is mostly associated with youth cinema, and her first three films, Water Lilies (Naissance des Pieuvres, 2007), Tomboy (2011) and Girlhood (Bande de Filles, 2014) – often considered as a trilogy – develop innovative coming-of-age narratives, which provide complex and thought-provoking perspectives on girlhood. Her sustained focus on female homosocial bonds has enabled her to construct nuanced representations of intersectional identity formation addressing aspects of gender fluidity, sexual awakening, queer sexuality, social class, race and ethnicity. Further to her directorial oeuvre, Sciamma has also written screenplays for hugely acclaimed films, such as Being 17 (André Techiné, 2016) and the stop-motion animation, My Life as a Courgette (Claude Barras, 2017).

So far in her career Sciamma has become known for her bold filmmaking choices, which have often incited productive and passionate conversations about culture and society, as well as for her involvement in current movements (i.e. 5050 by 2020) and protests that demand gender equality in the film industry. As a self-identifying feminist activist Céline Sciamma is a significant force in contemporary French and international cinema alike. This symposium provides the opportunity to bring together scholars to share ideas on different ways of thinking about and discussing her work.

Papers are especially welcome on, but not limited to, the following areas:

- Coming of age in Sciamma's films

- Girls, sisters and girlhood

- Queer identities

- Whiteness and the racial politics of Sciamma's films

- Sciamma and contemporary debates in film authorship and feminism

- Sciamma and global art cinema

- Analyses of particular films: Water Lilies, Tomboy, Girlhood, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

- the importance of the body, sports and dance

- the sense of touch and the haptic dimension of Sciamma's films

- the use of work in Sciamma's work

- Sciamma and children's cinema

- Sciamma's casting choices: from casting sauvage to recurring stars

- Sciamma's screenwriting for My Life as a Courgette (Barras, 2017), Being 17 (Techiné, 2016), and for TV show The Returned (Les Revenants, 2012-2015)

Proposals of no more than 250 words should be sent to Dr Frances Smith ( and Dr Despoina Mantziari ( by January 31st 2020.

In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with any questions about the event.