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Too Black to Be French? with Isabelle Boni-Claverie

Isabelle Boni-Claverie by IDFA

The French author and film director Isabelle Boni-Claverie will speak about her documentary, Trop Noire pour être Française? (Too Black to Be French?), a moving and instructive testimony on race relations in France, recently screened in the U.S. for the first time.

“Where are you from?” asks the friend of a friend at a party, the person next to you at a dinner, the colleague trying to make friends, the perfect stranger. “Where are you from?” asks the friend of a friend at a party, the person next to you at a dinner, the colleague trying to make friends, the perfect stranger. She dreamed of playing Mary in the school nativity play. She would be Balthazar, the Wise Man from Africa. For this little girl raised in an affluent neighborhood of Paris, it was a shock.

In Trop noire pour être française?, Isabelle Boni-Claverie tells her story, from Paris to Abidjan, from her private Catholic school to working in television. A black woman from a privileged social background, she nonetheless has to face the obvious: in France, class does not erase race. She weaves her story with her grandfather’s, an African man who became a magistrate of the French Republic in the 1930s, and the husband of a young woman from the rural town of Gaillac, the first local to marry a black man.


Isabelle Boni-Claverie is an author, screenwriter, and film director born in the Ivory Coast. She moved to Switzerland when she was a few months old, then to France, but mostly grew up in Paris.

She is the granddaughter of one of France’s first black magistrates - Alphonse Boni, who left his native Ivory Coast to study law in the 1930s, when it was still a French colony. After the independence of Ivory Coast, Alphonse Boni became Chief Justice of the country.

Isabelle Boni-Claverie studied French modern Literature and Art History. After graduating from the Sorbonne, she entered the Parisian film school La Fémis where she graduated in 2000 with a specialization in screenwriting. She wrote and directed the documentary Too Black to Be French? (2015) and the book with the same title, which was published in August 2017.

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