Screened as part of NZIFF 2023

Chocolat 1988

Directed by Claire Denis Retrospective

A complex, languorous tale of violence and desire drawing on French auteur Claire Denis’ own childhood growing up in colonial French Africa.

Jul 21

The Civic

Jul 22

The Civic

France In French with English subtitles
104 minutes Colour / DCP



Alain Belmondo
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Gérard Crosnier


Claire Denis
Jean-Pol Fargeau


Robert Alazraki


Monica Coleman
Claudine Merlin
Sylvie Quester

Production Designer

Thierry Flamand

Costume Designer

Christian Gasc


Isaach De Bankolé
Giulia Boschi
François Cluzet

4K Restoration


Beloved French filmmaker Claire Denis began her career working for Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch before going on to direct an incredibly diverse oeuvre (Both Sides of the Blade [NZIFF 2022], Stars At Noon [NZIFF 2022], Beau Travail [NZIFF 2021], High Life [NZIFF 2019], Let the Sunshine In [NZIFF 2017], White Material [NZIFF 2010], 35 Shots of Rum [NZIFF 2009], The Intruder [NZIFF 2005], Friday Night [NZIFF 2003], Trouble Every Day [NZIFF 2002]), receiving widespread acclaim for her elliptical narrative and visual style, inspiring cinephiles the world over from filmmakers Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Mati Diop (Atlantics) to long-time NZIFF Festival Director Bill Gosden, who programmed nearly every one of the auteur’s films during his tenure. His love of Claire Denis’ films can be traced all the way back to her debut, Chocolat, in 1988.

“In her multi-layered, languorously absorbing feature debut, Claire Denis draws on her own childhood experiences growing up in colonial French Africa, exploring many of the themes that would recur throughout her work. Returning to the town where she grew up in Cameroon after many years living in France, a white woman (Mireille Perrier) reflects on her relationship with Protée (Isaach De Bankolé), a Black servant with whom she formed a friendship while not fully grasping the racial divides that governed their worlds.” — Criterion

“It’s astonishing how early on in her career Denis had a handle on her distinct brand of visual composition. Hers is a genius for showing not telling, for laying out surfaces that are rich with implication and for conducting details until there is a heady picture that is minutely observant with a sweep that reaches from heaven to hell.” — Sophie Monks Kaufman, Little White Lies