“The level of candour achieved by Massadian with her [four-year-old] actor is astonishing in its freedom and lack of sentimentality.” — Jay Kuehner, Cinema Scope

Year: 2011
Country: France
Running time: 68 mins
Censor Rating: M - offensive language, content that may disturb

Screenplay: Valérie Massadian
Producer: Sophie Erbs
Photography: Léo Hinstin, Valérie Massadian
Editors: Dominique Auvray, Valérie Massadian
In French with English subtitles

With: Kelyna Lecomte (Nana), Alain Sabras (Pappy), Marie Delmas (mother), Yves Monguillon, Léo Penot, Max Penot

Festivals: Locarno, Vancouver 2011; Rotterdam 2012

Fairytale seems to merge with documentary in this startling debut which captures the world from the perspective of a four-year-old girl. Nana lives with her brusque young mother in a little stone cottage at the edge of a forest. Wandering with her grandfather, she learns how to set rabbit traps; with her mother she gathers wood for their rudimentary stove. She watches the adult world, apparently unfazed by its harsher aspects, or becomes thoroughly absorbed in solitary play and storytelling. Upon returning home one day to find her mother gone, Nana applies her innocent knowledge to the new situation, oblivious to the dangers which we see everywhere. Director Valérie Massadian, deeply familiar with the Perche region in which her film is set, has drawn upon her young actress’ own life, but the plot as such arose from improvisation. She and the extraordinary Kelyna Lecomte stir the early childhood lurking in all of us, with its marvels, mysteries and fears. — SR