Ponette is a 1996 French film directed by Jacques Doillon. The film centers on four-year-old Ponette (Victoire Thivisol), who is coming to terms with the death of her mother. The film received acclaim for Thivisol's performance, who was only four at the time of filming.

French theatrical release poster
Directed byJacques Doillon
Produced byAlain Sarde
Written byJacques Doillon
StarringVictoire Thivisol
Claire Nebout
Music byPhilippe Sarde
CinematographyCaroline Champetier
Edited byJacqueline Lecompte
Distributed byBAC Films
Release date
  • 25 September 1996 (1996-09-25) (France)
Running time
97 minutes
Budget€2.7 million[1]
Box office$3.9 million[1]


Before the film begins, Ponette's mother dies in a car crash, which Ponette herself survives with only a broken arm (she consequently must wear an arm cast). Following her mother's death, Ponette's father (Xavier Beauvois) leaves the young girl with her Aunt Claire (Claire Nebout), and her cousins Matiaz (Matiaz Bureau Caton) and Delphine (Delphine Schiltz). Ponette and her cousins are later sent to boarding school. There the loss of her mother, becomes even more harsh and painful when she is mocked on the playground for being motherless.[2] Not yet having come to terms with her mother's death, Ponette searches for her.[2] Ponette becomes increasingly withdrawn, and spends most of her time waiting for her mother to come back. When waiting alone fails, Ponette enlists the help of her school friend Ada (Léopoldine Serre) to help her become a "child of God" to hopefully convince God to return her mother. In the end, Ponette visits a cemetery and cries for her mother, who suddenly appears to comfort her and ask her to live her life and not be sad all the time. Her mother says she cannot keep coming back, so Ponette must move on and go be happy with her father. Then it appears that her mother gives her a sweater that she did not bring to the cemetery, and her father comments when he sees her that "I haven't seen that sweater in a while".


Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91%, based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10.[3]


Award / Film Festival Category Recipients and nominees Result
National Board of Review Award Top Foreign Films Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Foreign Language Film Won
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Breakthrough Performance - Female Victoire Thivisol Won
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
São Paulo International Film Festival Critics Prize Won
Satellite Award Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Society of Texas Film Critics Awards Best Foreign Film 2nd place
Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actress Victoire Thivisol Won
OCIC Award Won
Sergio Trasatti Award Won
Golden Lion Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Family Foreign Film Won
Best Young Performer in a Foreign Film Victoire Thivisol Won


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