Signature Series

The Films of Claire Denis

ClaireDenis

Born in Paris in 1948, Claire Denis spent her childhood in various African nations where her father was a French colonial administrator.   She studied filmmaking at the prestigious film school IDHEC (now FEMIS) in Paris, and after graduating, worked as an assistant to New Wave legend, Jacques Rivette, about whom she later made the portrait, Jacques Rivette: The Watchman, for the “Cinema of our Times” series. Denis served a long apprenticeship before directing her own films, working as an assistant on Dušan Makavejev’s Sweet Movie (1974), and later working as an assistant director to Costa-Gavras, Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders. With her acclaimed debut feature, Chocolat, Denis began to shape her unique, visceral cinematic vision. Her films feel their way through charged situations and complex relationships – cultural, familial, sexual – by attending to the textures and rhythms of the physical world and to the ways that people move through it.

“For me, filmmaking is a journey into the impossible.” – Claire Denis

Several of her most celebrated films, from Chocolat to Beau travail and White Material, are set in Africa, and a concern with colonialism and its aftereffects runs through much of her work. From the African landscapes of these films, to the multicultural, urban France of I Can’t Sleep, Trouble Every Day and 35 Shots of Rum, Denis’ powerfully visual work explores the dynamics of belonging and the lives of outsiders, as well as the underlying potential for violence that can exist even in the most seemingly mundane of relationships. Over the years, she has also worked repeatedly with a select group of actors – including Isaach de Bankolé, Vincent Gallo, Grégoire Colin, and Alex Decas (whom she has described as her “muse”) – in a series of collaborations that span decades. In honor of the release of her latest film, Let the Sunshine In (starring Juliette Binoche), this May The Loft Cinema is proud to present a four film retrospective of the work of Claire Denis, all presented on 35mm film prints.