Céline Sciamma receives Joseph Plateau Honorary Award, presented by Lukas Dhont, at Film Fest Gent 2022

Celine Sciamma Joseph Plateau Award c Jeroen Willems 025
News 12 Oct 2022
French filmmaker Céline Sciamma, best known for her game-changing historical drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire, has received a Joseph Plateau Honorary Award at Film Fest Gent on Wednesday 12 October. She was handed the award by Lukas Dhont, who kicked off the festival the day before with his sophomore feature Close. Before the award ceremony, the two filmmakers talked in depth about each other’s oeuvre.

On Wednesday night, Film Fest Gent honoured director-screenwriter Céline Sciamma with a Joseph Plateau Honorary Award. Sciamma’s attendance in Ghent - realised in collaboration with the Unie van Regisseurs (Belgium) - was highly anticipated. Tickets for her most recent film, Petite maman, combined with an in-depth talk between the acclaimed French director and Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont, sold out in no time. The duo met in front of a packed theatre and talked about Sciamma’s oeuvre and her crucial role in 21st-century queer cinema. After the talk, Lukas Dhont presented Céline Sciamma with a Joseph Plateau Honorary Award. With this oeuvre award, Film Fest Gent wants to recognise Sciamma’s unique and important voice within today’s film industry. Her contribution to the art of film should not be underestimated, with numerous films focusing on the female experience.

"Your films show how healing it is to make the invisible visible. Your work is a place of consolation."
Lukas Dhont

Céline Sciamma grew up in a suburb outside of Paris and first studied French Literature before being admitted to La Fémis, one of the world’s most prestigious film schools. Her featured debut, Water Lilies (2007), earned a selection in the Un Certain Regard competition in Cannes. That year, she won the Prix Louis-Delluc for best debut, an award she shared with Mia Hansen-Løve (for All Is Forgiven), who is coming to Ghent on 22 October to present her latest film One Fine Morning (Un beau matin). Together with her subsequent films Tomboy (2011) and Girlhood (2014), Water Lilies forms a loose trilogy of coming-of-age stories set in the Parisian suburbs. In 2019, Sciamma won the hearts of just about every cinephile with her historical drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Considered an absolute masterpiece of contemporary cinema, the passionate and emotionally devastating account of a romance between two women in the 18th century is a perfect example of the female gaze in cinema, avoiding and even subverting heteronormative and patriarchal tropes. Sciamma’s fifth feature, Petite maman (2021), proved equally enchanting. A very intimate parable about memories, childhood, family and friendship, the film proved once again that Céline Sciamma is a filmmaker to cherish. She also makes her mark as a screenwriter for other directors, having (co-)written the screenplay of the Oscar-nominated stop-motion film My Life as a Zucchini and of Jacques Audiard’s Paris, 13th District (shown at FFG last year).

Céline Sciamma also had a great piece of advice for filmmakers

"Pascale Ferrand [director of Lady Chatterley] once gave me this advice. 'We should all do what is easy for us.' It seems like non-advice, but I find it comforting. There is always an easy way. And it is not about lacking ambition."
Celine Sciamma Joseph Plateau Award c Jeroen Willems 025
"An award is a culture. I saw the amazing list of winners and I wanted to belong to them. Of course, because Sandra Bullock was one of them! This award is also just a great invention. Plateau understood the illusion of motion. What if we referred to cinema as "the illusion of motion" from now on? How would that change the politics of cinema and how we think about it?"
Céline Sciamma

The Joseph Plateau Honorary Award is presented to distinguished guests of Film Fest Gent whose achievements have earned them a special and distinct place in the history of international filmmaking. The award itself is a replica of professor Joseph Plateau’s phenakistiscope, the device he designed to illustrate his theory of the persistence of vision, which became the basic principle behind the idea of ‘moving images’. Past winners include Andrea Arnold (2021), Viggo Mortensen (2020), Géraldine Chaplin (2019), Ken Loach (2016), Isabelle Huppert (2011), Walter Hill (2007) … The full list of winners is available on the website.