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Forms of the Real – Films by Claire Simon

Film still from NOTRE CORPS: A mother with her newborn baby in a hospital bed.

French filmmaker Claire Simon has been making films for over 40 years. She studied anthropology and arrived at directing via editing, having never studied film. She always does her own cinematography and writes her own scripts too. She has made both documentaries and features. All her works express a keen interest in the world and society, each exploring different aspects of reality and drawing on fiction and documentary in equal measure. Claire Simon tracks down the novelistic elements of real life and has elements of real life flow into her features. She frequently marks the fact that we are always seeing a mediated reality via her use of music. Starting from a documentary approach, she has developed an aesthetic that combined the narrative modes of both genres. Her focus repeatedly returns to the social microcosm of school, women’s bodies and their right to self-determination, the topography of Paris and the people that live there in particular. To transform a small documentary scene into something more far-reaching is one of Simon’s qualities. As she puts it, “I’ve often filmed things on my doorstep, as it were, because I’m convinced that we ultimately can discover the entire world on our doorsteps if we are curious and attentive enough.”  

Claire Simon caused a stir with her current documentary NOTRE CORPS (2023) at this year’s Berlinale. She also screened MIMI (2003) and PREMIÈRES SOLITUDES (2018) at the Forum. Yet the comprehensive oeuvre she has put together since the start of the 80s remains largely undiscovered here in Germany, with none of her films receiving a theatrical release. With this in mind, Arsenal is dedicating a comprehensive retrospective to Claire Simon, which presents a selection of twelve films.

We are very happy that Claire Simon will be our guest at Arsenal for the opening weekend from June 16-18, which includes the Berlin premiere of VOUS NE DÉSIREZ QUE MOI (I Want to Talk About Duras, France 2021). (Birgit Kohler)

An event with the friendly support of Institut français and Air France.

Past screenings

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Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media