One of the most surprising, unexpected debut features in recent years, Valérie Massadian's Nana is a luminous, unhurriedly observational portrait of childhood, following a four-year-old girl living in rural France through a series of improvised tableaux blurring the lines between documentary and fiction. Short and narratively slight Ms. Massadian's film may be, but it contains a wondrous multitude of possibilities within its non-linear construction that sees Nana (Kelyna Lecomte) first with her farmer grandfather (Alain Sabras) following the farm work, then with her anguished mother (Marie Delmas) living in an outhouse in the woods, and finally by herself, left to her own devices after mum disappears, and able to go on as if nothing fazes her.

     Whether Ms. Massadian is creating a magical glimpse inside Nana's childhood or showing her coping, in her own untried way, with the blows of real life, the film weaves a potent spell through its crisp photography and the leisurely way in which the director follows the lead of her young star who is extraordinarily at ease in the presence of the camera. Moreover, Ms. Massadian manages to walk the very fine tightrope between the sacred and the profane, nature and nurture with an outstanding assurance for a first-timer, even if one with a strong background in image (a model, assistant to Nan Goldin and photographer in her own right). Nana is no guarantee that Ms. Massadian will repeat the performance, seeming as it is such a delicate one-off, but the way the director looks at the grace of childhood in such a transparently enchanted way is enough to make this a startling debut.

Kelyna Lecomte, Marie Delmas, Alain Sabras.
     Director and writer, Valérie Massadian; cinematography, Léo Hinstin, Ms. Massadian (color); editors, Dominique Auvray, Ms. Massadian; producer, Sophie Erbs (Gaïjin), France, 2011, 68 minutes.
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012 official screening, Culturgest - Grande Auditório (Lisbon), April 27th 2012. 


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