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France, 1989 (MIFF 2000, Written on the Skin – The Films of Claire Denis)

Director: Claire Denis

For her second feature film, Denis departed from the meditative tone of her debut, and plunged instead into the noise and energy of a band on the road. Acclaimed Cameroonian act Les Têtes Brulées (The Burning Heads) were embarking upon their debut tour of France, and her decision to join them, and document their experiences, resulted in one of the most vivid portraits of a musical group ever commited to film. Denis met co-scenarist and bandleader Jean-Mane Ahanda while filming Chocolat in his homeland, and was intrigued by the passion and complexity of his music.

African musicians say that they start with traditional music and then modernize it," he explains at one point. In fact they only combine modern techniques with traditional beginnings. We, however, combine city and village."

One could say much the same of Denis herself. Coming as it did on the heels of Chocolat's international art-house success, the film's very existence attests to its maker's commitment to cross-cultural representation on the screen, and is at once the most distinctive and the least-seen film of her early career. (The title, incidentally, is pidgin English for Don't go; Stay With Us Until the Morning.)

See also...


One of Denis' most controversial films, this study of Parisian cock-fight handlers alienated some viewers with its unflinching (and clearly well-researched) depiction of a vicious sport ... More »


Though ostensibly based on a true story-of the 'Granny Killer' Thierry Paufin, who terrorised the outer arrondisements of Paris in the late 1980s, murdering a string of elderly women—Denis here ... More »


Arguably Denis' greatest film to date, Beau Travail is by any standard a magisterial piece of work: meditative, richly sensual—an ode to the beauty of male bodies and to the inscrutability of ... More »


Returning to Cameroon, the West African nation where she spent her childhood, a young Frenchwoman (Mireille Perrier) contemplates her youth, spent within the enclave of a colonial outpost, and the ... More »


While virtually all of Denis' films have tacitly addressed the issue of family. this - her fifth narrative feature - confronts the subject explicitly. Boniface (Gregoire Colin) is a 19-year-old pizza ... More »


Asked to contribute to the French TV mini-series Tous les Garcons et les Filles de Leur Age (All the Boys and Girls in Their Time)—which assigned ten European directors the task of creating ... More »

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