June 6–25, 2019

Claire Denis: Trouble Every Day

Bold, sensual, and frequently controversial, the cinema of celebrated French auteur Claire Denis is one of defiant individualism.”

Amy Simmons, British Film Institute

French filmmaker Claire Denis (b. 1946) is among the greatest practicing artists in the world today, to say nothing (and everything) of her import to the seventh art alone. Across her thirty-year career, the inimitable auteur has built a name for herself as a high-minded, extraordinarily ciné-literate, and philosophical film thinker who reifies challenging ideas in purely, powerfully cinematic terms. Her oeuvre, peppered with at least a masterpiece per decade (probably more), is one of contemporary cinema’s most mercurial, yet is also undeniably cohesive. She has a penchant for choosing formulaic film genres to frame her (sometimes barely there) stories—family melodrama (35 rhums), B‑movie horror (Trouble Every Day), noir thriller (Bastards), deep space sci-fi (High Life), and so on—only to explode and subsume them into her singular, uniquely Denisian sensibilities. Narratively elliptical, formally experimental, and, when called for, defiantly transgressive, these works tend to circle and re-circle insoluble questions around race, displacement, estrangement, and the terrifying Otherness of one’s self. (Denis was raised in colonial West Africa, and many of her themes feel tethered to that conflicted history).

Featuring five imported 35mm prints on loan from the Institut Français in Paris, this select Claire Denis retrospective is the largest presented by The Cinematheque to date. Its eight feature films—indelible works of art, all—provide a decades-long survey of the French master’s esteemed and, at times, controversial career, from her semi-autobiographical 1988 debut Chocolat to her 2017 romantic roundelay Let the Sunshine In.

There’s no better filmmaker working in the world right now.” Nick James, Sight & Sound

In a filmography defined by restless fracturing and reconfiguring, Denis has been making some of the most outrageous and essential narrative cinema.” Nick Pinkerton, Film Comment

Opening Night • Thursday, June 6Reception, Refreshments & Special Introduction
7:00 pm — Doors
8:00 pm — 35 rhums with introduction by Allison Collins

Allison Collins is a Vancouver-based curator, writer, and researcher. Since 2015 she has worked as Curator of Media Arts at Western Front. She has curated projects for grunt gallery, Presentation House Gallery, Or Gallery, VIVO Media Arts Centre, and Vtape. Her writing has been published across Canada. Collins holds a BFA in Visual Art from the University of Ottawa and an MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia.


The Cinematheque is grateful to Amélie Garin-Davet, French Embassy and Cultural Services in New York, for her assistance in making this retrospective possible.

Institut Francais
French Embassy in the United States

List of Programmed Films

Date Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2019-Jun 35 rhums Claire Denis 2008 France . . .
2019-Jun Chocolat Claire Denis 1988 France . . .
2019-Jun I Can't Sleep Claire Denis 1994 France
2019-Jun Bastards Claire Denis 2013 France . . .
2019-Jun L'intrus Claire Denis 2004 France
2019-Jun White Material Claire Denis 2009 France
2019-Jun Let the Sunshine In Claire Denis 2017 France . . .
2019-Jun Trouble Every Day Claire Denis 2001 France . . .

Denis’s most heralded masterpiece Beau travail was unavailable for this series, as a restoration and re-release are still in the works.

Photograph by Olivier Metzger for Libération.