I am not sure where I was 15 years ago, and I don't know if you were
there, too, but in 1996 a powerful French movie entered the world of
global cinema and made
a splash that to this day is still being felt via YouTube and the
blogosphere. The movie was called "Ponette" and it starred a
girl named Victoire Thivisol. Here's the backstory, and yes, she's
still making new films today, although she did take a 12-year break.
The little actress was discovered by French director Jacques Doillon
for the film, which was about a little girl coping with the death of
her mother. Doillon and his team traveled around France talking to
\children about their ideas of death, and at one preschool in Lyons,
one assistant noticed a little girl with a unique ease and spontaneity
in front of the camera. She was only three. Doillon was so impressed
wit her, however, ''bowled over'' might be a better term, that he cast
her as the title character in the movie.
She won the Best Actress gong at the Venice Film Festival the next
year when she was five for the movie role for ''conveying a grief so
deep that it almost shattered the screen."
Her star turn would have been impressive from an actress of any age,
but coming from a 4-year-old child, it was almost mind-boggling,
according to one reviewer.
You can still see the entire film unspool for free on ten segments on
YouTube now. Rainy day? This is one movie to watch again and again. In
fact, Victoire was so impressive in ''Ponette'' that a documentary,
titled ''Jouer Ponette'' (''Playing Ponette''), was made about the
film was shot.
"One trailer for the film shows Victoire effortlessly slipping in and
out of character whenever Doillon says action or cut, writes film
critic Rebecca Cowie. "The subtitle for the trailer reads (in French),
'Nothing can distract her when the camera is rolling. At least, almost
nothing.' But just when you start to think Victoire is so unbelievably
talented and precocious that she must be an adult in a child's body,
you see the documentary's behind-the-scenes footage that shows her
playing and giggling with her co-star Matiaz Canton like any normal
Perhaps because she received so much attention for ''Ponette'' (no
doubt very overwhelming for a child that young), Victoire didn't play
another lead role in French films for 12 years. But she returned to
the magic of the cinema world at age 16 in "Les Grands s'allongent par
terre", released in 2008 in France. And she has a future, too. But
first, if you haven't seen "Ponette" yet, get thee to a YouTube monitor now!