Films byTexts by Claire Denis

Claire Denis (1948) is a French filmmaker and one of the major artistic voices of contemporary French cinema. After studying economics, Claire Denis enrolled in the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (now École nationale supérieure des métiers de l’image et du son), graduating in 1971. She started out as an assistant director to Dušan Makavejev, Costa Gavras, Jacques Rivette, Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders. Denis spent her childhood and formative years traveling across Africa because of her father’s occupation as a colonial administrator. This experience formed the basis for her interest in national identity and the legacy of French colonialism, which was translated into her debut film Chocolat (1988). The fragility of human relationships is a central theme in her work, along with “the desire to see others”, which for Claire Denis equals the desire to make films, as she once noted. Her filmography includes S’en fout la mort (1990), Nenette et Boni (1996), J’ai pas sommeil (1994), Beau travail (1999), White Material (2009), and more recently Let the Sunshine in (2017) and High Life (2018).

Serge Daney, Claire Denis, 1990, 125’

“In de films van Rivette vormen ontmoetingen het hart. Het gaat om personages die in een chaotisch netwerk met elkaar verbonden zijn. Zijn films zijn als choreografieën van menselijke relaties. Toch is hij graag alleen wanneer hij niet aan het filmen is.

Claire Denis, 1999, 92’

“Me, I wish I could be a sailor or soldier, so many times. And to have a family at home dealing with all the problems, water leaks, paying the bills…”

Claire Denis, 2004, 130’

An emotionally cold man leaves the safety of his Alpine home to seek a heart transplant and an estranged son. A film inspired by philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s short book of the same name.


Claire Denis, 2008, 100’

Lionel works as a RER (Paris suburban train) driver. He has been raising his daughter Joséphine, as a single parent, and now, she is a young woman. They live side by side, almost like a couple, refusing to commit in outside relationships and get involved with others’ problems.

Claire Denis, 2018, 110’

Moving back and forth through time, High Life's action unfolds aboard a shoebox-like spaceship where death row prisoners are futilely transported across the universe in search of a new energy source and subjected to secretive fertility experiments by a fluid-obsessed scientist.