Major French Filmmaker Claire Denis at Emory Nov. 14 and 15

Film screenings begin Nov. 2

October 18, 2012
Claire Denis is hailed as one of France’s leading directors.

Claire Denis, one of the most highly regarded French filmmakers working today, will be on the Emory campus Nov. 14 and 15 for two evening presentations. On Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Denis will introduce a screening of her latest film, “White Material” (2009) and on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m., she will be the focus of a Creativity Conversation. Preceding her visit, four of her most critically acclaimed films will be screened at Emory on Nov. 2, 5, 9, and 12 at 7:30 p.m. The presentations and screenings take place in White Hall on the Emory campus. All events are free and open to the public.

Denis is one of the major artistic voices in contemporary French cinema and a key figure in world cinema. After working as an assistant director to Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders among others, she made her directing debut in 1988 with “Chocolat”—a film about a French girl growing up in a colonial outpost in Africa. Since then, Denis has become known for her fearless exploration of a wide range of contemporary subjects and often extreme human situations; her films are informed by her own experiences of displacement during her childhood in Africa and then her emigration to France as a teenager. Most of all, her films reflect a deep awareness of the complexities of French post-colonialism as played out in the lives of “ordinary” people.

Throughout her career, and across a wide variety of genres, Denis has developed a highly individualistic approach to narratives of intense engagement in the here and now. Her films allude to, or sometimes adapt great works of literature (e.g., Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd” for 1999’s “Beau Travail”) and cinema (Yasujiro Ozu’s 1949 “Late Spring” for 2008’s “35 Shots of Rum”), continuing a dialogue with writers and filmmakers. Her visual style favors long takes, extreme close-ups and associative editing. Dance is ever-present in her films. Music, whether it is mainstream, world music or specifically composed for her movies, is so important that it could be considered a character in her films.

Denis' films show characters too often absent from mainstream cinema such as exiles, immigrants, or people living at the margins of the society. She has said, “We are always trying and failing to understand the world and ourselves. We never really know the final meaning of our life. Literature and the cinema should reflect that.”

Four major films will be screened at Emory leading up to Denis’ visit. All 7:30 p.m. screenings are shown in 35mm (except where noted) and will be introduced by Emory faculty.
Nov. 2 - "Chocolat" (1988)

Nov. 5 - "I Can't Sleep" ("J'ai pas sommeil," 1994) (presented on DVD)

Nov. 9 - "Beau Travail" (1999)

Nov. 12 - "35 Shots of Rum" ("35 rhums," 2008)

Denis’ visit is hosted by Emory’s Department of Film and Media Studies and the Department of French and Italian, in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Institut Français and Unifrance. Cosponsors of this program are Emory’s program in African Studies, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the Hightower Fund, and the Departments of African American Studies, Comparative Literature, English, History, Theater Studies and Women/Gender/Sexuality Studies. 

The Nov. 2, 5, 9, and 12 screenings are at 7:30 p.m. in White Hall 205, 301 Dowman Drive, Atlanta, 30322. The Claire Denis presentations are Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 15, 6 p.m. in White Hall 208. All events are free. Directions and parking information at


The mission of the Emory Department of Film and Media Studies is media literacy: to train undergraduate and graduate students to be discerning consumers, scholars and producers of the our most dynamic and influential cultural forms, grounding them in a thorough knowledge of American and international film and television history, the practices of media theory and criticism, as well as familiarizing them with the tools and methodologies of documentary and fiction filmmaking.

Media Contacts

  • Program Contacts:
    Matthew Bernstein
    Chair, Department of Film and Media Studies
    Emory University
  • Catherine Dana
    Department of French and Italian
    Emory University

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