Like most of the major filmmakers who inspire her, Isabelle Boni-Claverie began her film education at a very young age. Accompanying her journalist mother into the editing room, she played with film reels and watched West Side Story or Grease dozens of times on the VCR at home. Later, she discovered Antonioni, Scorsese, Cassavetes, Oshima and Wong Kar-Wai. Having always imagined herself as a writer (her first novel, La Grande Dévoreuse / The Great Devourer, written at the age of seventeen, won an award), and after studying Literature at the Sorbonne, then History of Art at the Ecole du Louvre, she states: “I simply got swept away by cinema”.
From 1994 to 2000, she thus headed the film section of the prestigious contemporary art magazine, Revue Noire, where she explored the multiple facets of African and African diaspora film. A decisive encounter with the filmmaker Claire Denis convinced her to turn to filmmaking herself. She was accepted at France’s prestigious national film school, the Fémis, from which she graduated in 2000.
Since, Isabelle Boni-Claverie has successfully made both television documentaries and short films. She first garnered the attention of the profession, two of her first short films, Le Génie d’Abou (The Genie of Abou) et Pour la nuit (For the Night) winning several international awards. She then went on to earn wider audience and media recognition.
Isabelle Boni-Claverie is especially well-known in France for her documentary Too Black to be French?, which was very well received both by the media and audience when it broadcast on the Franco-German television channel ARTE in 2015.
Inspired by her own story, this film weaves the personal destiny of her grandparents (a mixed couple at a time when it was unthinkable for a black man to marry a white woman) with an analysis of the discriminations that continue to affect black people in France.
This film (and the book that followed) attest to her desire to tell the stories of all those who remain under-represented in film and literature.
Isabelle Boni-Claverie is currently working on a feature film project and on a project for an international series.