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Nelly Kaplan (1931-2020)

Abel Fance and Nelly Kaplan

COVID-19 is rapidly taking its toll among filmmakers and actors, as witnessed in this year’s loss of Jiří Menzel, Sarah Maldoror, Hélène Châtelain, actor Soumitra Chatterjee, actress Lucia Bosè and Fernando Solanas, among others. On November 12, the latter’s compatriot, Argentine-French filmmaker and writer Nelly Kaplan passed away at the age of 89, just months after her lifelong collaborator and producer, Claude Makovski, had died. They worked together on the script of her feature debut and most famous film, La fiancée du pirate [A Very Curious Girl] (1968). Kaplan had left for France at the age of 22. One year later, she met the legendary filmmaker Abel Gance through Henri Langlois. They had a romance and she collaborated on multiple films as his assistant. In May 2008, her correspondence with Gance was published in the book Ma Cygne, mon Signe. She also had an amorous friendship with surrealist André Breton and distinguished herself as an ‘anarchofeminist’ writer.


You can watch La fiancée du pirate (1968) and her documentary about the filming of Abel Gance’s epic, Napoléon (1927), Abel Gance et son Napoléon (1985) online.

You can watch a 2016 video portrait of Kaplan on the website of the journal Another Gaze, and 2019 video interview by critic Joan Dupont on the website of Film Quarterly.  

Images: Bernadette Lafont and Michel Constantin screening The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1954) in La fiancée du pirate