In addition to being one of our most gifted filmmakers, Claire Denis is also among the most outspoken. The French auteur’s name was conspicuously absent from the Cannes Film Festival lineup earlier this week, as many expected “High Life,” her sci-fi film starring Robert Pattinson, to premiere on the Croisette.
She’s asked about that in an interview with the Irish Times, but not before taking issue with being referred to as a “female director” by her interviewer. “When you say ‘female director’ I already want to stop this conversation!” Denis says. “Female director? I feel like I am an animal. I am a female director like this is a female bird. No, I am a director — good or bad I don’t know. But I am a woman.”
As for “High Life,” it appears as though it simply wasn’t ready in time for the festival.
“I made my way,” Denis says of her plight. “I made my films and I am a woman. Nobody raped me for making a film. The problem with this story is that people are victims when somebody has the power over them. But I was not really in that position. I had always a freedom. I was not obliged to go to a hotel room with somebody to get a film produced. I should have, maybe. To get a bigger film. Harvey Weinstein never asked me. I made my life differently. I don’t want to comment on this story of female film-making. Oh, all those f’s.”
As for Cannes, Denis seems unbothered by the fact that none of her movies have premiered in Competition since “Chocolat” 30 years ago. “I take what I am given,” she says. “I am always considering maybe my films are not good enough. Maybe they are boring. Maybe there is something Cannes doesn’t like. I never asked them, by the way. I don’t care.” Read her full interview here.