Denis down to Earth in Cannes

High Life director heads short film jury

by Richard Mowe

Claire Denis, seen here during the shoot of Bastards in 2013, is a director who always breaks taboos
Claire Denis, seen here during the shoot of Bastards in 2013, is a director who always breaks taboos Photo: Unifrance
French filmmaker and screenwriter Claire Denis who recently sent Robert Pattinson to outer space in High Life, will hit the ground running to lead the Short Films and Cinéfondation Jury at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival.

Denis follows in the illustrious wake of Abderrahmane Sissako, Naomi Kawase, Cristian Mungiu and Bertrand Bonello.

On 23 May, along with her jury, she will award the three Cinéfondation prizes among the 17 film students’ works presented. And on 25 May she will award the Short Film Palme d’or at the Closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival.

Denis, 73, has occupied a unique place in contemporary cinema for more than three decades. She has directed a compelling body of work, including 13 feature films, four of which were screened in the Cannes Film Festival’s Official selection. She has established her taste for observation and experimentation throughout her artistic journeys, navigating between introspection and openness to the world.

Chocolat (1998), her first, semi-autobiographical film revisited Cameroon’s independence and the Africa of her childhood to which she returned to with Beau Travail (2000) and White Material (2010). deeply affected audiences and was lauded at the Cannes Competition, the César awards and by critics.

With No Fear, No Die (1990), I Can’t Sleep (Un Certain Regard, 1994), Nénette and Boni (Pardo d’oro at Locarno, 1996) or 35 Shots of Rums (2008), the director explores a cinema of the margins and the heartlands where connections between people are in constant evolution.

She is also attached to filming desire born from things forbidden and taboos, as seen in Trouble Every Day (2001) or [film id= 23786]Bastards[/film] (Un Certain Regard, 2013).

Denis has never stopped reforming the paths between the unknown and the familiar up to High Life (2018). It was her first foray into sci-fi and her first time working in English.

On working with Pattinson, Denis has said: ““I was crazy about him, about the [“Twilight”] couple. And then I saw the Cronenberg movie [“Cosmopolis”]. . . . I also saw ‘Good Time.’ When I started working with him, I was not only charmed and seduced, I was inspired very much. His beauty was not problematic. You can see through the beauty. At least I can.”

An admirer of Ozu, Denis has worked alongside Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Rivette, and she is a filmmaker frequently quoted by the new generation, from Barry Jenkins to Joachim Trier, She will also now mentor the young directors of the 2019 Selection.

In 2018, the Jury chaired by Bertrand Bonello awarded the Short Film Palme d’or to All These Creatures, by Charles Williams.

Lynne Ramsay, Xavier Giannoli, Alice Winocour, Pascale Ferran, João Salaviza, Jim Jarmusch, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Jane Campion, who remains to this day the only director having received both the Short Film Palme d’or and the Palme d’or for a feature, have also made their first steps in Cannes with this Selection.

The Cannes Film Festival, which takes place from 14 to 25 May, unveils its full programme on 18 April.

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