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France, 1996 (MIFF 1997, International)

Director: Sandrine Veysset

Sandrine Veysset's Will it Snow for Christmas? is a film of transcendent power. Eschewing an trace of melodrama, it depicts a rural French family struggling to eke subsistence from the land. A young mother is the fulctum of the story; her seven illegitimate children are the source of small delights. No heating, no plumbing, yet everyone is happy - most of the time. We watch them move through the rhythms of the season: from sunlight and warmth on into the depths of winter, where Christmas stands as a beacon of hope for all.

The children's father - who has another wife, family and home elsewhere - arrives in his red truck to load the latest crop. He asserts his capricious authority in a series of malevolent acts, forcing all but the youngest children to work in the fields; his second(ary) family being used as little more than slave labour.

The film proceeds as a series of vignettes which subtly underscore seasonal motifs with­out dissipating narrative momentum. Emotional depth is wedded to remorseless logic; Veysset ultimately creates her own distinctive universe and one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory.

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