Wednesday, April 5, 12:30pm
CHHS 281, UNC Charlotte Main Campus
Director Claire Denis
France, 1988, 105 min.
French with English subtitles
Presented as part of The Tournées Festival, which was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, the Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image Animée, and the Franco-American Cultural Fund.
Additional sponsors are the Alliance Française de Charlotte and the UNC Charlotte French Club.
Introduction by William Davis, Lecturer in Film Studies, UNC Charlotte. Discussion will follow screening.
With the release of her beautiful debut feature Chocolat in 1988, director Claire Denis appeared as a fully-formed, major talent who used stunningly composed wide shots, associative sequences of images, and an offbeat eye for detail to evoke the complex moods of Africa in the last decade of French colonial rule. Based on the director’s own childhood as the daughter of a French administrator in Africa, Chocolat is seen through the eyes of a French district officer’s little girl in a remote part of Cameroon. When a French plane crash-lands nearby, the district officer takes in its passengers, a group of colonial administrators and entrepreneurs who soon bring to light the many tensions underlying the family’s apparently sleepy existence, not least of which is the subtly conveyed but deeply sensual attraction between the mistress of the house and the handsome black houseboy Protée. While the film is as hushed and languid as the plains surrounding the district office, it is full of searing portraits of colonial life, with characters who appear for a single scene but whose memory hovers over the entire film like the implicit promise of the change to come. Shot entirely on location, Chocolat established Claire Denis as one of the least didactic yet most revealing chroniclers of the European presence on the continent, a reputation that would be confirmed by her later films Beau Travail and White Material.