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Author: Martine Beugnet

Claire Denis' first film, Chocolat, was a deceptively gentle family chronicle set in colonial Africa. She focuses on ordinary people, men and women, black and white, homosexuals and heterosexuals, whom displacement and difference have set apart, relegated to the outskirts of society and to the margins of representation. In her films, the perception of the Other is always complex and ambiguous. This book outlines the multi-faceted, poetic vision of the contemporary world that emerges through Denis' filmmaking to date and to bring to light its main thematic, temporal, spatial and stylistic implications. The analysis presented focuses on her fictional feature films, which form the main body of her work and have generally become easily accessible in video or DVD format. In her first feature, Chocolat, the director's early experiences made her sensitive to oppression and misappropriation, exile and racism, alienation and transgression. Location and space emphasise a sense of displacement and function as metaphors for the process of potential exclusion of the individual (body) from society. But the metaphor also evokes an inner sense of exile and longing, a feeling of foreignness that is played out at the level of the individual and of the individual's body through relations of desire, fear and rejection. Denis' work stands apart from a tradition of screenplay and dialogue-based cinema that defines much of France's auteur as well as of its popular production. Denis' work has an echo of a wide range of contemporary thought and the traces of influential aesthetic and genre models.

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Martine Beugnet

Claire Denis’ first film, Chocolat (1988) was a deceptively gentle family chronicle set in colonial Africa. Selected for the Cannes Festival, it was hailed by the critics and festival audiences as a remarkable first feature. In 2001, part of the same Cannes Festival public booed and left the theatre during the screening of the controversial Trouble Every Day (2001), a lyrical and gory account of

in Claire Denis
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Martine Beugnet

While most directors blessed by a successful début choose to follow the safe path and to attempt to meet their audiences’ expectations, Claire Denis’ work has remained in constant mutation, offering, within a coherent thematic framework, a renewed exploration of film’s less charted territories. The examination of the issues that are at the centre of her concerns – exile and alienation, desire and

in Claire Denis
Towards a cinema of the senses
Martine Beugnet

their filmmaking. Claire Denis chose a work by her contemporary Jacques de Loustal (1956), known for the bold figures and tropical mood of his paintings. Her 2 min video film is based on a slow, uninterrupted travelling shot which goes back and forth, exploring the content of the painting, as well as the space that lies around its edges. In a similar overlap, the soundtrack mingles the sound of jazz-mambo music (Tin Tin Deo

in Claire Denis
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Martine Beugnet

The films that launched Claire Denis’ career as a filmmaker deal with aspects of France’s recent history that had previously remained all but invisible. Chapter 1 briefly outlined how both at the level of the discourse, by the state laws limiting the rights of expression, and on the unconscious level, as a form of collective amnesia, the decolonisation and the lasting impact of imperialism had long

in Claire Denis
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Martine Beugnet

) 9 Vendredi soir (2002) Vincent Lindon (Jean) and Claire Denis

in Claire Denis
Martine Beugnet

, je me sentais étrangère parce qu’on comprend assez bien, quand on est un petit enfant blanc, qu’on est pas de cette terre-là. 2 (Denorme and Douin 2001 : 21) Je trouvai moral – je ne peux pas dire autrement – d’expliquer ma place par rapport à l’Afrique, ma place symbolique. 3 (Lifshitz 1995 ) Claire Denis

in Claire Denis

The great American film critic Manny Farber memorably declared space to be the most dramatic stylistic entity in the visual arts. He posited three primary types of space in fiction cinema: the field of the screen, the psychological space of the actor, and the area of experience and geography that the film covers. This book brings together five French directors who have established themselves as among the most exciting and significant working today: Bruno Dumont, Robert Guediguian, Laurent Cantet, Abdellatif Kechiche, and Claire Denis. It proposes that people think about cinematographic space in its many different forms simultaneously (screenspace, landscape, narrative space, soundscape, spectatorial space). Through a series of close and original readings of selected films, it posits a new 'space of the cinematic subject'. Dumont's attraction to real settings and locality suggests a commitment to realism. New forms and surfaces of spectatorship provoke new sensations and engender new kinds of perception, as well as new ways of understanding and feeling space. The book interrogates Guediguian's obsessive portrayal of one particular city, Marseilles. Entering into the spaces of work and non-work in Cantet's films, it asks what constitutes space and place within the contemporary field of social relations. The book also engages with cultural space as the site of social integration and metissage in the work of Kechiche, his dialogues with diasporic communities and highly contested urban locales. Denis's film work contains continually shifting points of passage between inside and outside, objective and subjective, in the restless flux.

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Grafting space and human relations in the trans-cinema of Claire Denis
James S. Williams

6 Beyond the Other: grafting space and human relations in the trans-cinema of Claire Denis Space and being in contemporary French cinema The trans-cinema of Claire Denis Whenever you make an incursion into a space, that space is altered … memory leaves a mark… and this mark leaves a mark on the body. (M. Monnier in Vers Malthilde). Even the pleasure of framing the image isn’t sufficient. Desire for the cinema ought to go beyond the frame, towards meaning. It should be a desire for a relationship with others. (C. Denis) Space/passage/threshold The freewheeling

in Space and being in contemporary French cinema
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Douglas Keesey

-Claude Brisseau (Choses secrètes, 2002 and Les Anges exterminateurs, 2006).2 Moreover, Breillat has been a leading light among an ever-increasing number of French female directors who are using the medium of film to explore women’s desires. Continuing in the tradition of foremothers Agnès Varda and Marguerite Duras, Breillat’s films have an affinity with those of her contemporary cinematic sisters, including Claire Denis, Virginie Despentes, Danièle Dubroux, Jeanne Labrune and Brigitte Roüan. Without the inspirational example of Breillat’s courage (and international success

in Catherine Breillat