Valérie Donzelli: “There is something enchanting that happened with Nona”

Valérie Donzelli (photo Critics' Week)
© Aurélie Lamachere | Critics’ Week

For her very first adventure on the small screen, the filmmaker is crowned today by the SFCC for the Prize for the Best Series 2021. She returns for us to the experience of Nona and her daughters.

Trial and master stroke. With Nona and her daughters, Valerie Donzelli conquered the public and won the 2021 Prize of the French Syndicate of Cinema and Television Film Critics on Monday. Two months after the broadcast of the series on Arte, the filmmaker looks back on this first television experience, successful at all levels. She explains to us what she kept from it and tells us that she now dreams of making a season 2…

The review of Nona and her daughters, the Arte series by Valérie Donzelli

First series and first success! You win the Prize for the Best French Series awarded by the SFCC today. Is the experience therefore fully validated?
Valerie Donzelli
: Even without this award, the experience would have been validated honestly. Because there is something a little enchanting that happened with this series, from the start! During assembly, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in an almost idyllic way. I always felt like a good fairy watching over this series. It’s strange to explain… And then it was well received by the press and the public in stride. So having this price today, I’m delighted… Even if it’s not this price that confirms my idea that I did well to make a series. I would say that’s the icing on the cake…

What do you like more concretely?

I love writing characters and Nona and her daughters, it’s a real series of characters. I felt very good because I was able to develop them as I have little opportunity in the cinema. This is the advantage of the series: we have time to spend time on each one. And since that’s my favorite part of my job… I was thrilled.

You are working on a season 2 of Nona ? Would you like to bring back Emmanuelle, George and Gabrielle?

Yes, I would love to do a season 2 of Nona and her daughters. But it’s Arte that decides and the channel isn’t so inclined to do seasons 2. So I’m not sure it will happen one day… But who knows? Maybe we’ll find them. Afterwards, I must admit that I had originally thought of it as a mini-series, without imagining a season 2… But hey… I liked the characters so much that I would love to find them again. Or else write another series. But for the moment, I am preparing my next film.

That said, we will find you on TV this year, since you will be a guest in an episode of Captain Marleau. Of Nona at marleauit’s a hell of a transition, isn’t it?

I am an actress and also a director, so it amuses me a lot to be on other people’s sets, to see how they are doing. And Josée Dayan is a television star! She has done a lot of important productions, with huge actors. She is the queen of the small screen. I found it interesting to see how she works. It was Josée who offered me this role, and I loved the idea of ​​facing Corinne Masiero and Catherine Frot (who will also be in this episode, editor’s note)! It’s stimulating to be in front of these two great actresses. Because me, deep down, I don’t really have an acting career. I love acting, but my job is mostly to make films. To be a director. So I thought it was fun to go to Captain Marleau, in front of these two big stars, and in front of the camera of the popess of the small screen! It’s a world I don’t know at all. I know auteur cinema very well, but not popular television.

Exactly. Does the director that you are sometimes want to go into fields other than auteur cinema? In Nonafor example, you touch on the fantasy genre…

I was a juror at the Gérardmer festival recently and I really enjoyed the experience. In fantasy cinema, I believe that there is a place to explore, in which I do not dare to go yet… but maybe one day I would like to venture there completely. Why not… In the fantastic, there is a form of poetry. These are things that are not explained with dialogue, but with images, feelings. It’s very visual as art. It’s sensory. And precisely, I like when things are offbeat. Besides, I don’t make a naturalist cinema. I try things. My cinema is always a little at the edge of things, and then finally not really. What interests me is the intimate, what goes through people. And I could totally put all that in a science fiction movie one day!

Nona and her daughters is available on VOD on the Arte.TV platform.

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