Must-see Director—Claire Denis – French filmmaker – Brief Article

Must-see Director—Claire Denis – French filmmaker – Brief Article – Interview

Graham Fuller


GRAHAM FULLER: Did growing up in West Africa influence your work as a filmmaker?

CLAIRE DENIS: It influenced the human being I became, as any childhood does. What Africa did give me, on top of an awareness of the beauty of a landscape, is that there are not only French people on Earth. I say this because there is a kind of idealistic way of speaking about my work as an out-from-the-bush thing. I’m also made by normal French culture. My father was born in Bangkok. My mother’s father is Brazilian. So I’m not only nourished by this magical, so-called Africa with a big A, which does not exist.

GF: But there are characters in your films who see their Africa as an ideal when they look back at it with bittersweet regret: the French woman contemplating her life as a child in Cameroon in Chocolat [1988], and Galoup in Beau Travail [1999], who recalls his life in the Legion in Djibouti.

CD: I would say that what Galoup regrets losing is his perfect, abstract world in the Legion. He does not regret leaving Africa, as I could have, or the woman in Chocolat.

GF: How did your horror movie, Trouble Every Day [to open in the U.S. in the spring of 2002], evolve?

CD: Through layers and layers of dreaming over 10 years. I always loved the vampire myth and films like Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People [1942]. I think the violence in my films is the violence contained in nightmares, in the deep, unconscious mind. People can like this film or not, but it’s a true movie, not fake scary. I am more disturbed by the fake violence of “funny” horror movies that are made for teenagers.

GF: All your films are recognizably yours.

CD: I wish it could be different sometimes. It would be great to change skins and pop out and find myself being another director for once. I’m doomed to be Claire Denis forever. It’s not funny.

Graham Fuller is Interview’s Film Writer at Large. Above: Claire Denis wears a shirt by PIAZZA SEMPIONE and a jacket by MARC BY MARC JACOBS. For fashion and photo details

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