COMPETITION – The autobiographical wire of Valéria Bruni-Tedeschi

Film cast © AFP

From camels to castles, the actress-director continues to mine the intimate, family-based, autobiographical vein for her films. After Actrices (Actresses – Dreams of the Night Before), presented in Un Certain Regard in 2007, she is competing now for the Palme d’or with A Castle in Italy (Un Château en Italie). It is about a family that falls apart, about a dawning love and an ailing brother.

Federica, Marcelline, Louise. The heroines of Valéria Bruni Tedeschi are never very far from her. A young woman with too much money in Il est plus facile pour un chameau (It’s Easier for a Camel)  (2003), a childless forty-year old actress in Actrices (Actresses) (2007), a woman in love with a much younger man in Un Château en Italie (A Castle in Italy) (2013).

Three films, three self-portraits. Although the actress-director says that there is also a lot of her co-scriptwriters, Noémie Lvovsky and Agnès de Sacy, the casting reinforces the autobiographical fiction: Valéria Bruni Tedeschi plays her own role, her mother is played by…  her mother (Marisa Borini) and her lover by Louis Garrel.


In A Castle in Italy, she evokes for the first time her brother, Virgile Bruni Tedeschi, who died of AIDS. In a little hospital room, within four walls, she stages his marriage with his young fiancée (Céline Salette). And in a scene that was suggested to her by Filippo Timi, the actor who plays her brother, she has the mother dance with her son. A scene that “immediately became something extraordinary,” the director recalls.

Filippo Timi and Marisa Borini. Photo from the film © RR

Valérie Bruni Tedeschi comes from a prominent Italian family belonging to the industrial bourgeoisie. They emigrated to France in 1973, when she was nine years old, because they were fearful of kidnapping by the Red Brigade. The director still feels the effect of this uprooting, and in her films, there is a recurrent theme of something that prevents the possibility of moving forward. But vitality and optimism finally carry the day, thanks to her humour, imagination and a healthy dose of self-mockery.

Valéria Bruni Tedeschi’s films are always exquisitely sensitive, between laughter and tears, always on the wire. A fragile and sensitive wire, like her voice, soft and broken.


Béatrice de Mondenard



Monday 20 May / Grand Théâtre Lumière / 4 pm

>> Go to the interactive calendar