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Program 35: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)


Directed by Céline Sciamma

In French and Italian with English subtitles.

In 1760 Brittany, France, an artist named Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), 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 orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse’s portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love.

Winner of several prizes at Cannes, including the Queer Palm, Portrait of a Lady on Fire solidifies Céline Sciamma (director of 2011 ImageOut favorite, Tomboy and writer of 2016 Imageout Narrative Feature Audience Award winner Being 17) as one of the most exciting filmmakers working in the world today. Together, Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel turn the female gaze into a dangerous, engrossing thrill, crafting the most breathtaking and elegant performances of the year. With contemporary themes in period dress, Portrait of a Lady on Fire leaves its audience an exquisitely sensual image of desire.

Awards & Accolades

  • Queer Palm Jury Award, Best Narrative Feature – Cannes Film Festival
  • Jury Award, Best Screenplay – Cannes Film Festival
  • People’s Choice Award, Best Narrative Feature – Melbourne International Film Festival
  • Winner, Norwegian Film Critics Award – Norwegian International Film Festival
  • Official Selection – Toronto International Film Festival
  • Official Selection – New York Film Festival
  • Official Selection – Jerusalem International Film Festival
  • Official Selection – Sydney International Film Festival

Dates & Times