News from the Locarno Festival
 

Nana

Intimate and sensitive—and completely devoid of sentimentality—Valerie Massadan’s debut feature Nana is about the basic questions of life and death as experienced directly in the middle of the process of awakening. Four-and-a-half year old Nana (Kelyna Lecomte) lives in the French countryside, apart from all other children, on a daily basis only interacting with her mother, her reserved grandfather and the natural world itself, its beauty and its violence.  Massadian’s extremely confident camera is often placed low, on the eye level of the child, a device that might stem from the filmmaker’s attempting to gain confidence from her lead, but one that also places the audience as if we, too, were children, sense-remembering the experience of discovery. Or, perhaps, as if witnessing the act of discovery through the gaze of the filmmaker, as if we were new parents. Children may be natural performers, but Massadian’s goal was to make a film with a child, not about one, capturing on camera the particular animalistic nature of her blossoming consciousness, and the combination of power and fragility represented in her body, in the most unobtrusive way possible. Set and filmed in Massadian and Lecomte’s native Perche region, and scuplted from over 50 hours of footage, Nana is a remarkable collaboration between director and performer, an elemental narrative made with freedom and patience.

Mark Peranson
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