Country: France
Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Isaach de Bankole, Adele Ado

Claire Denis is one of the most talented directors working in movies today, making the sexist conditions of film production around the world look even stupider. Her most recent film, White Material, is a return to her roots. Born in Paris, Denis moved to Africa with her father, a civil servant, at a young age. She and her family lived in many francophone countries including Burkina Faso, Somalia, Senegal, and Cameroon.

White Material, based on a screenplay co-written with French-Sengalese author Marie NDiaye, is set in an unnamed African country in the days leading up to a civil war. Maria Vial (the ever dependable Isabelle Huppert) runs a coffee plantation that's barely staying afloat, no thanks to her ex-husband or her increasingly unhinged son.

A terrible violence lurks at the edge of this eerie picture that explores the legacy of colonialism with a remarkably clear head. —RS

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