Sarah Biasini: “My mother [Romy Schneider] got to play women that made a difference”

Sarah Biasini (b. 1978) is a French stage and screen actress, and the daughter of the legendary Romy Schneider (1938-1982) and her second husband, journalist Daniel Biasini (b. 1949). She’s also the granddaughter of German actress Magda Schneider (1909-1996); that makes her a third generation actress in her family.

She first studied art and history at the Sorbonne in Paris, then studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles, and at the Actor’s Studio in New York.

As an author, she wrote “La beauté du ciel” (2021), reflecting on her mother and stating that ‘my mother is the beauty in the sky.’ She wrote the book at age 43—the age her mother had when she passed away after a cardiac arrest in her Paris apartment. By that time, Romy Schneider had worked and lived there for many years and proved that she had long since emerged from the candyfloss world of the “Sissi” films that made her a celebrity in the 1950s when she was still a teenager.

Sarah Biasini, now an actress in her own right, was invited to Brussels to introduce one of her mother’s French screen classics, Claude Sautet’s “César et Rosalie” (1972), during a retrospective at the Cinema Palace where the Romy Schneider Exhibition, which runs until June 25, 2023, displays many items and memorabilia from her professional and private life.

Ms. Biasini and Eric Franssen, the theater’s managing director, appeared on stage to introduce the film; their conversation, in French, that you can find here, has been slightly edited and condensed.

“César et Rosalie” (1972, trailer)

Why is “César et Rosalie” your favorite film in your mother’s entire body of work?

It’s the film that I’ve seen the most, and it’s the first one of her films that I saw as an adult. In the film, there’s no violence and no sex; after seeing the film maybe ten or fifteen times now, I know it by heart. The music is excellent, the dialogues are marvelous, and all the supporting roles are flawless. After the Exhibition of her work in Paris and the many screenings of her films on French television—on Arte, for example—her work and this film, in particular, were easily accessible. And when I watched “César et Rosalie” again, and I was amazed by the character of César, played by Yves Montand. I rediscovered it, and he is incredible in the film. When I used to watch my mother’s work, I always focused on the characters she played and didn’t pay too much attention to the other performances. But the role of César is compelling and very funny, and because of the way Yves Montand plays his character, I highly recommend this film for anyone to see. The film gives you an excellent idea of what life was like in France during the 1970s and what it was like to be a woman in that era.

After “Les choses de la vie” [1970] and “Max et les ferailleurs” [1971], this is the third film your mother made with Claude Sautet. She became a symbol for French women.

That’s right. Her collaboration with Claude Sautet was unique because they had found common ground. The roles he offered her were very substantial; she got to play women that made a difference, and that was something the audience could quickly identify with.

Sarah Bisiani talks about her mother’s acting skills during the introduction of “César et Rosalie” | Film Talk

The Exhibition shows that your mother was in charge; she was in control, and she was an independent woman. So is her character in “César et Rosalie.”

Yes. Her character has a way of handling things that happen to her; it’s a very human character with its strength and shortcomings.

Are you currently involved with new projects?

I just finished touring with a play in France; I am writing, and for next year, I have another play coming up.

Cinema Palace, Brussels
April 4, 2023

Sarah Biasini visits the Romy Schneider Exhibition in Brussels. Right, a photograph of her with her mother in 1980, when she was two | Film Talk


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