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Claire Denis at the American Cinematheque!

"White Material". 2009. France. Directed by Claire Denis

On the eve of the nationwide release of her latest film, High Life (2018), the American Cinematheque presents Salt, Sweat and Sunshine: The Cinema of Claire Denis.

The program will run from Fri, April 12 – Sun, April 14 at the Aero Theatre, with in-person appearances by Claire Denis.

Friday, April 12 at 7:30pm

  • Program begins with discussion with Claire Denis
  • Screening of Chocolat (1988) and White Material (2009)

Saturday, April 13 at 5:00pm

  • Screening of Beau Travail (1999)
  • Discussion following with Claire Denis

Saturday, April 13 at 7:30pm

  • Double-feature of Nénette and Boni (1996) and 35 Shots of Rum (2008)

Sunday, April 14 at 7:30pm

  • Double-feature of Trouble Every Day (2001) and Let the Sunshine In (2017)

Chocolat: First time director Claire Denis became known as a bold new auteur virtually overnight with this Palme d'Or-nominated masterpiece set in the plains of Cameroon in Central Africa. The film presents a rich tapestry of memories as a French woman recounts her youth growing up on a colonial outpost. Flashbacks center on the woman’s fond memories of the family houseboy, who acted as the child’s sole source of wisdom and comfort in an otherwise corrupt social world.

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Starring: Isaach De Bankolé, Giulia Boschi, François Cluzet
Year: 1988
Runtime: 105 min
Language: French with English subtitles
Distributor: Janus Films

White Material: Returning to the African continent on which she was raised, Claire Denis directs yet another ruminative examination of race relations in a colonial environment, this time set against the backdrop of an unspecified civil war. French farmer Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) is given a stern warning to abandon her coffee plantation and seek refuge for her family before violence begins. But stubbornness and white privilege keep Maria trudging forward, as she attempts to keep her family together while seeking the help of local workers to finish the harvest.  

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis, Marie N'Diaye
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Christoper Lambert, Isaach De Bankolé
Year: 2009
Runtime: 106 min
Language: French with English subtitles
Distributor: IFC Films

Beau Travail: 20th Anniversary!  Considered by many to be Claire Denis’ masterpiece, Beau Travail sets Herman Melville’s classic novella Billy Budd in a distinctly modern milieu, telling a universal tale of jealousy while mining the intricate details of the French Foreign Legion’s presence in the Gulf of Djibouti. 35mm print courtesy of Institut Français, thanks to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Starring: Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
Year: 1999
Runtime: 92 min
Language: French with English subtitles
Distributor: Janus Films

Nénette and Boni: Directing with the same delicacy that infused her films of the early 1990s, Claire Denis takes on the subject of broken families in this thoughtful tale of a sibling reunion. When Boni’s (Grégoire Colin) mother dies, his plans to move his friends into her now-vacant house are upended by a sudden visit from his estranged younger sister, Nénette (Alice Houri), who had run away from boarding school after their parent’s divorce. To make matters worse, Nénette is pregnant, a fact that neither sibling is prepared to deal with.

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Starring: Grégoire Colin, Alice Houri, Jacques Nolot
Year: 1996
Runtime: 103 min
Language: French with English subtitles
Distributor: Strand Releasing

35 Shots of Rum (35 Rhums): One of Denis’ most poignant films portrays a rare father-daughter relationship. The antagonist is time itself, as aging father Lionel (Alex Descas) cannot escape the constant reminder of his impending retirement and the prospect of living alone, while daughter Josephine (Mati Diop), now a grown woman, must look ahead to college graduation and possibly marriage.

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Starring: Alex Descas, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué
Year: 2008
Runtime: 100 min
Language: French and German with English subtitles
Distributor: The Cinema Guild

Trouble Every Day: When newlyweds Shane (Vincent Gallo) and June (Tricia Vessey) honeymoon in Paris, the new husband secretly pursues a renowned neuroscientist conducting studies on the human libido. Becoming more involved with Dr. Sémeneau (Alex Descas) and his tests, Shane learns of the doctor’s wife, Coré (Béatrice Dalle), whose strange illness requires her to be quarantined at all times. But all hell breaks loose when Coré escapes and unleashes a sickness deadlier than anyone could have imagined.           

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Starring: Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Béatrice Dalle, Alex Descas
Year: 2001
Runtime: 101 min
Language: French with English subtitles
Distributor: The Film Desk

Let the Sunshine In (Un Beau Soleil Intérieur): Shedding the blood and guts, but none of the stinging bite of her previous work on male-female relationships, this is a surprisingly caustic romantic comedy about a woman’s search for true love. Denis and screenwriter-novelist Christine Angot examine a woman’s troubled love life, as she finds little success beyond carnal gratification.

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Christine Angot, Claire Denis, Roland Barthes
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine
Year: 2017
Runtime: 94 min
Language: French with English subtitles
Distributor: IFC Films/Sundance Selects

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