A tribute to one of the most iconic contemporary filmmakers

Visions du Réel pays tribute to Claire De­nis, a significant, radical and adventurous filmmaker, by awarding her the Sesterce d’or Prix Raiffeisen Maître du Réel, She is a prominent figure in contemporary filmmaking, having directed over 30 feature-length films including six docu­mentaries. A selective retrospective is devoted to her work, and she will give a masterclass online during the Festival. This invitation is made in collaboration with La Ciné­mathèque Suisse and the ECAL (Lau­sanne University of Art and Design).


One of the most iconic figures of contemporary filmmaking, Claire Denis having spent her childhood in several African countries, comes to France as a teenager. Only then does she discover cinema, the high-school cine-club, and finally arthouse cinema at the French Cinematheque. She studies literature and economics, works for Niger’s school television, and then registers at the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies (IDHEC) in Paris. She directs various short films and becomes assistant director, working notably with Jacques Rivette (who will become the subject in 1990 of a documentary by Denis called Jacques Rivette, Le Veilleur), Dušan Makavejev, Roberto Enrico and Costa-Gavras. In 1983 she works with Wim Wenders on Paris, Texas and then on Wings of Desire. After having assisted in 1986 Jim Jarmusch (whom she had met through musician John Lurie) on Down by Law, she directs in 1988 her first film, Chocolat, which is immediately selected at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated for the César awards. It is also the first time she collaborates with Agnès Godard, whom she met at La Fémis and who will become director of photography for all her films. About thirty films will follow, including six  documentaries and no fewer than 17 feature films, such as Nénette et Boni for which she is awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1996 and the emblematic Beau Travail, also presented at the Venice Film Festival in 1999, as well as the striking Trouble Every Day with Béatrice Dalle and Vincent Gallo, screened in 2001 at Cannes Film Festival. Her last work, High Life, as controversial as it was critically acclaimed, started its festival career in San Sebastian, Toronto and New York (2018), starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche – who had already performed in several earlier films of Denis.

Beyond the documentaries that she has directed, Claire Denis, in her fictional or even her science-fiction works, maintains in a personal and delicate manner, a recurring relationship to “the real”. By allowing the necessary space to account for the voids and the hollows, in order to render what the acting or the staging are unable to express in the tempo of the editing, or in the exploration of bodies and desire, her fiction swells with the substance of reality. Using a tangible fact as a starting point: a news item, a personal experience, the body of an actor— in this case, by appropriating the image of the latter also outside the films – Claire Denis weaves cinematographic objects that are both modern and adventurous, joyously hesitating between formal austerity and euphoric sensuality.

  • High Life, 2018
  • Un beau soleil intérieur, 2017
  • Le Camp de Breidjing, 2015
  • Contact, 2014
  • Voilà l’enchaînement, 2014
  • Les Salauds, 2013
  • Venezia 70: Future Reloaded, 2013
  • Aller au diable, 2011
  • White Material, 2010
  • 35 rhums, 2008
  • Vers Mathilde, 2005
  • L’Intrus, 2004
  • Vendredi soir, 2002
  • Vers Nancy (Segment du film Ten Minutes Older: The Cello), 2002
  • Trouble Every Day, 2001
  • Beau travail, 1999
  • Nénette et Boni, 1996
  • Nice, very Nice (Segment du film A propos de Nice, la suite), 1994
  • J’ai pas sommeil, 1994
  • U.S. Go Home (Collection : Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge), 1994
  • La Robe à cerceau (épisode de la série Monologues), 1993
  • Keep It for Yourself (Segment du film Figaro Story), 1991
  • Pour Ushari Ahmed Mahmoud, Soudan (Segment de la série Contre l’Oubli), 1991
  • Jacques Rivette, le veilleur. 1re partie : le jour (Collection : Cinéaste de notre temps), 1990
  • Jacques Rivette, le veilleur. 2e partie : la nuit (Collection : Cinéaste de notre temps), 1990
  • S’en fout la mort, 1990
  • Man No Run, 1989
  • Chocolat, 1988
  • Le 15 Mai, 1969

 Programme of the retrospective