Claire Denis: White Material before 35 Rhums
by Fabien Lemercier
French helmer Claire Denis will be shooting her ninth feature, White Material, in Cameroon this winter. Produced by Pascal Caucheteux for Why Not Productions, the film, set on coffee plantations, will star Isabelle Huppert and Christophe Lambert in a story scripted by novelist Marie Ndiaye that is still under wraps.
Mixing the bizarre and the real (along the lines of Kafka, Faulkner or Paul Bowles), the writer often places the family at the heart of her films as the focus of all tensions and as a means of destruction. Such a universe certainly provides Huppert with a fitting role, also marking a return to her roots for a director who spent her entire childhood in Cameroon and based her debut feature and 1998 Cannes official competition titles Chocolat in the African country.
The director’s next film is 35 Rhums, which received €330,000 this week as part of a French/German co-production mini-agreement. Also funded by Eurimages (€360,000), the co-production between France’s Soudaine Compagnie (70%), Germany’s Pandora (20%) and Belgium’s Versus Production (10%) has a €3.4m budget that includes pre-sales and co-production funding from Arte France Cinéma and €383,000 from the Ile de France region, where the majority of the 40-day shoot will take place.
Co-scripted by the director and her regular partner Jean Pol Fargeau, 35 Rhums analyses how a father (Alex Descas) who raises his daughter alone after his wife’s suicide and tries to teach her that she must live her own life, despite the quite strong relationship between them.
A busy slate is lined up for the director, who – well-liked by film-lovers and winner of the 1996 Locarno Golden Leopard for Nénette and Boni – took part in official competition at the 2004 Venice Film Festival with her latest feature, The Intruder [+see also:
film profile], before making a detour to documentary in 2005 with Towards Mathilde.
(Translated from French)