After 2019’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, we were eagerly awaiting Céline Sciamma’s next feature. Her new film, Petite Maman, is now finally in theaters, and it’s something of a surprise: a sweet, magical-realist story about a little girl who meets and befriends a younger version of her grieving mother. It’s a more modest film than the swooning period romance of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but Petite Maman is just as profound in its play with gender roles and women’s inner worlds.

As Amy Taubin writes in an essay in this week’s Film Comment Letter, “All of Sciamma’s films contain autobiographical elements, but none are as revealing as Petite Maman’s portrait of the filmmaker as a fledgling tomboy writer/director, already eager to claim all roles on-screen and off that only have been bestowed on men.” FC Editors Clinton Krute and Devika Girish sat down with the director over Zoom to dig into those autobiographical elements, the film’s deceptive simplicity, Sciamma’s love of classic children’s films, and much more.