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35 Shots of Rum

Claire Denis
35 rhums
France, Germany 2008 / 100’

In this intimate outtake from the life of a black community on the suburbs of Paris, driver Lionel (Alex Descas) is a widower and single parent raising his daughter, Joséphine (Mati Diop), who is an anthropology student. While the mother's absence binds them in a nearly symbiotic relationship, both begin to sense a longing for something more in life. The illusion that time stands still in their flat filled with love and harmony slowly dissipates as life draws Lionel and Joséphine away from each other; the father gets into the good graces of fellow cabbie Gabrielle, while the daughter gets romantic with neighbor Noé (Grégoire Colin). Will they choose the secure and self-sufficient status quo or make peace with passing and open their hearts to the unknown? In 35 Shots of Rum, inspired by Yasujirō Ozu's Late Spring, Claire Denis, akin to the Japanese director, seems to tell her story in whispers. The actors also play in a subtle and toned-down way, including the cameo by the usually expressive Ingrid Caven, the icon from Rainer Werner Fassbinder films.

Adam Kruk


Gijón IFF 2008 - Special Jury Prize; Hamburg FF 2008 - Art Cinema Award

Claire Denis

French director and screenwriter Claire Denis is one of the most important auteurs of modern film. She gained much experience assisting Rivette, Costa-Gavras, Jarmusch and Wenders. Already in her debut, Chocolat (1988), she dealt with issues of racial and intercultural tensions, a topic she experienced in her childhood as the daughter of a colonial civil servant in Africa. The problem of colonialism and inequality in access to goods and education are leitmotifs in her work, which is also fueled by ideals of Paris '68. This is most powerfully expressed in Good Work(1999) starring Denis Lavant and White Material (2009) featuring Isabelle Huppert. In portraying her homeland, she is sensitive to social issues such as the situation of immigrants, which she took on in I Can't Sleep (1994), the frustrations of civil servants - Friday Night (2002), or family relationships, as in TheIntruder (2004). Against that background, Denis often sketches the erotic character of French society, as is evident in Trouble Every Day (2001) starring Béatrice Dalle, one of her favorite actresses. She also frequently casts Isaach de Bankole and Grégoire Colin. Denis works regularly with cinematographer Agnès Godard, whom she met in the 1970s at La Fmis, the French state film school in Paris, where Denis currently teaches film directing. The 2013 documentary Trespassing Bergman by Jane Magnusson and Hynek Pallas indicates that even the great Ingmar Bergman prized the films of Claire Denis.

Selected filmography

1988 Czekolada / Chocolat / Chocolate

1999 Piękna praca / Beau travail / Good Work

2004 Intruz / L’intrus / The intruder

2008 35 kieliszków rumu / 35 rhums / 35 Shots of Rum

2009 Biała Afryka / White Material

2013 Les salauds / Bastards

Cast & Crew

director Claire Denis
screenplay Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
cinematography Agnès Godard
editing Guy Lecorne
music Tindersticks
cast Alex Descas, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué, Grégoire Colin, Ingrid Caven
producer Karl Baumgartner, Bruno Pésery
production Soudaine Compagnie, Pandora Filmproduktion, Arte France Cinéma
sales Wild Bunch
language French, German
colouration colour