Claire Denis

"Claire Denis has created an impressive body of work that ranges from narrative features and music documentaries to films for television. Known worldwide as an inspired director with a vivacious, trenchant perspective, she has been called "one of the greatest directors of our time," and enjoys a reputation as an extraordinarily inventive and influential independent filmmaker." - Cynthia Felando (The St. James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia, 1999)

Claire Denis

Director / Screenwriter
(1946- ) Born April 21, Paris, France
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 50 Directors

Key Production Countries: France, Germany
Key Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama, Family Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Urban Drama
Key Collaborators: Agnès Godard (Cinematographer), Jean-Pol Fargeau (Screenwriter), Grégoire Colin (Leading Actor), Alex Descas (Leading Character Actor), Arnaud de Moleron (Production Designer), Nelly Quettier (Editor), Michel Subor (Leading Character Actor), Florence Loiret Caille (Leading Character Actress), Tindersticks (Composer), Isaach De Bankolé (Leading Actor), Bruno Pésery (Producer), Dominique Auvray (Editor)

"A white liberal director who spent her formative years living in colonial Africa, Claire Denis is one of the most original and daring directors to emerge from France. What she seems to be attempting, and frequently achieving, is a phenomenological, almost existential, cinema. Her ambition is, in her words, "to capture moments... pieces of time." There is an almost anthropological interest in minutiae - gestures, faces, surfaces - as her camera zeroes in and lingers long on pinpoint details. Denis self-deprecatingly puts her meditative style down to the fact that she is a "a bit slow." - Lloyd Hughes (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"So its clear, I think, how far certain running ideas in French cinema - evident in the thirties and hurried forward in the New Wave - are still being pursued. Claire Denis reminds one not just of the wonder of French cinema, but of its sense of history." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"A provocative director whose films offer richly textured, contemplative examinations of cross-cultural tensions and alienation, Claire Denis is one of French cinema's most distinctive and humanistic storytellers. A prolific filmmaker who is more concerned with the drive of her characters rather than the plot that weaves them together, she has been dubbed by one critic as one of the only current French directors who "has been able to reconcile the lyricism of French cinema with the impulse to capture the often harsh face of contemporary France."" - Rebecca Flint Marx (All-Movie Guide)
"Aside from their striking visual quality and formal dexterity, Denis' films exude tender affection for, and solidarity with, a range of everyday people – exiles, immigrants, sexual transgressives and alienated urban dwellers – who thrive on the margins of society. At the same time, much of her work questions the self-serving assumptions and prejudices of the dominant white European culture." - Damon Smith (Senses of Cinema, 2005)
"Her films are not exquisite compositions for cinematic beauty's sake; few directors take you so directly within a character's subjectivity, and Denis does it with imagistic tactility rather than over psychology." - Heidi Bollich (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"What distinguishes Denis's films is their lack of explanation or prescription; where other directors might be afraid of confusing or losing their audience, Denis holds her nerve, and lets the action and characters slowly unfold. The result is mesmeric. She isn't interested in political messages; she lets the emotions speak for themselves." - Kira Cochrane (The Guardian, 2009)
"Far more than her predecessors and early collaborators, Denis views cinema as a means to record and not to interpret, to allow her subjects expression and especially presence to speak for themselves without overt narration. Whatever the influence—direct or indirect—of Denis's predecessors upon her work, the bold narrative and visual style she has deployed in all of her films since Chocolat suggest that hers is not, in Harold Bloom's term, an anxiety of influence, so much as a building upon, an extension of." - Leo Goldsmith (Reverse Shot)
"If filming means you have to control everything I'd shoot myself. You already have to control the framing, the colors, the costumes, the sets and all that. But that's done before, the control's done before. What I like during filming is that these are moments when you have the right not to reply and to let things happen. Before the shoot, after the shoot, you have to account for everything." - Claire Denis
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
U.S. Go Home [TV] (1994), Friday Night (2002), 35 Shots of Rum (2008) , White Material (2009)
Worth a Look
Chocolat (1988), Jacques Rivette - Le veilleur [TV] (1990), I Can't Sleep (1994), Nenette et Boni (1996), Beau travail (1998) , Trouble Every Day (2001), Ten Minutes Older: The Cello (2002) [also directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, Mike Figgis, Jean-Luc Godard, Jirí Menzel, Michael Radford, Volker Schlöndorff & István Szabó], The Intruder (2004) , Bastards (2013)
Approach with Caution
No Fear, No Die (1990)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Claire Denis / Favourite Films
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Do the Right Thing (1989) Spike Lee, Germany, Year Zero (1947) Roberto Rossellini, The Home and the World (1984) Satyajit Ray, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) John Cassavetes, Late Spring (1949) Yasujiro Ozu, No, or the Vain Glory of Command (1990) Manoel de Oliveira, La Notte (1961) Michelangelo Antonioni, Nouvelle vague (1990) Jean-Luc Godard, Pickpocket (1959) Robert Bresson.
Source: Sight & Sound (1992)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    White Material
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