Orphan (“Orpheline”), by Arnaud des Pallières



1 min

Orphan (“Orpheline”), by Arnaud des Pallières


By adapting the personal history of his co-writer Christelle Berthevas to the screen, filmmaker Arnaud des Pallières retraces the captivating tale of a modern young woman at four major moments in her life.

© Le Pacte

A filmmaker of the real

Arnaud des Pallières has been celebrated since he was at university, when he filmed Gilles Deleuze's presentation, "What is the creative act? (“Qu'est-ce que l'acte de création?”) (1988). In the 1990s, he produced several short films and confirmed his status in 1997 with his first feature film, Drancy Avenir, an investigation into the history of the Holocaust.


This prolific film maker has directed for television (Disneyland, my old home (“Disneyland, mon vieux pays natal” ) in 2002; American Dust (“Poussières d'Amérique”) in 2011) and for the big screen (Adieu in 2004; Park (“Parc”) in 2009; Michael Kohlhaas in 2013), all while establishing a dialogue between documentary and fiction. A realistic approach that is evident in his fifth feature film, Orphan, released in 2016.


Portrait of a modern woman

At the age of 6, Kiki is growing up in the countryside; her life is changed forever by a game of hide and seek. At the age of 13, Karine, a sexually precocious teenager, has many love affairs and runs away to save herself from her family home. At the age of 20, Sandra lands in Paris, where a series of bad relationships bring her to the brink of disaster. At the age of 27, Renée is now an accomplished woman, but her past is beginning to catch up with her.


Through four different ages and four different names, Orphan weaves together the fate of a single modern heroine which encompasses both hope and tragedy.


A film written by four hands

After portraying many male characters, Arnaud des Pallières wanted to create the portrait of a woman based on a true story. So he asked Christelle Berthevas, his co-writer for Michael Kohlhaas, to write about her memories without any particular common thread other than her own feelings.


The two scriptwriters then developed the plot working backwards, following four stages of life and with four actresses – from the thirty-something Parisian (Adèle Haenel) to the twenty-something Parisian (Adèle Exarchopoulos), then the teenager (Solène Rigot), and finally the child (Vega Cuzytek). The heroine changes her name at each age, so as to better to reinvent herself outside of any family identity.


Powerful casting

To embody his characters, Arnaud des Pallières surrounded himself with excellent actors. In addition to two prominent female figures in contemporary French cinema, Adèle Haenel and Adèle Exarchopoulos, the director featured world-renowned actors, including Gemma Arterton of the UK and Sergi López of Spain.


This made the film’s critical success a sure bet, and it won two awards at the International Francophone Film Festival in Namur in 2016, including a Bayard d’Or for best actress, jointly awarded to the four actresses playing the heroine.

Orphan (“Orpheline”), by Arnaud des Pallières ( trailer)
The Institut français and the project

Orphan (“Orpheline”) is distributed internationally by the Institut français. Two other films by Arnaud Des Pallières are part of the Institut français' film catalogue: Park (“Parc”) (2006) and Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas (“Michael Kohlhaas”) (2013).


The Institut français offers a catalogue of over 2,500 titles, enabling the French cultural network and its partners to screen French films around the world.


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