Isabelle Boni-Claverie

Isabelle Boni-Claverie is a French filmmaker, screenwriter and writer.

Working in both documentary and fiction, she moves between genres according to the requirements of the narration. For over fifteen years, she has worked on a range of productions from hit French television series to American cinema, while also successfully directing her own more personal works.


At the age of eighteen, Isabelle’s first text, La Grande Dévoreuse (The Great Devourer), was published in the Villes d’Exil collection (Editions Le Monde/La Découverte), before being republished ten years later in novel form by NEI (Nouvelles Editions Ivoiriennes).

At only twenty-two, she became head of the film section of Revue Noire, the first French-language contemporary art magazine devoted to Africa and its diaspora. She then worked for five years for the monthly AM (Afrique Magazine), creating its “My Night With” column.

Meeting the film director Claire Denis convinced Isabelle to turn to filmmaking herself. After studying Modern Literature at the Sorbonne, and History of Art at the Ecole du Louvre, she was accepted at the FEMIS, France’s prestigious national film school, from which she graduated in screenwriting in 2000.

In 2005, actor producer Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Witness, The Color Purple…) asked her to adapt Valérie Tong Cuong’s novel, Où je suis (Editions Grasset), into the screenplay Heart of Blackness.

Since, Isabelle has co-written numerous television dramas and series, including the comedy Sex, Okra and Salted Butter (ARTE), Seconde Chance (TF1), Coeur Océan (France 2) and Plus Belle La Vie (France 3).

Sexe, Gombo et Beurre Salé

After garnering the attention of the profession – two of her first short films, Pour la nuit (For the Night) and Le Génie d’Abou (The Genie of Abou) won several international awards – Isabelle Boni-Claverie went on to earn wider audience recognition. Broadcast for the first time on the Franco-German television channel ARTE in 2015, her documentary, Too Black to be French?, was a hit both with audiences and the media.

This film, and her later book Trop Noire pour être Française (To Black to be French) published by Editions Taillandier in 2017, attest to Isabelle Boni-Claverie’s desire to tell the stories of all those who remain under-represented in film and literature.  

It was with this in mind that she created the 50 Nuances de Noir association to promote new kinds of conversations about skin color related differences.

Regularly invited by the television and the press to discuss race relations, Isabelle Boni-Claverie also intervenes as a speaker. She has twice been invited by the UN to speak about the place of black people, and especially women, in France. She has also been invited to speak by various American universities.

In 2019, she is a visiting scholar at NYU. In this capacity, she will organize a three-day festival in April 2019, The Black Experience In French Cinema: A Film Retrospective and a Conference, bringing together filmmakers, actors, and French and American academics.


– 2nd in the Young Francophone Writers’ Awards

– Special Jury Award at the Abidjan International Short Film Festival.

– Special Oecuménique-Signis Jury Award & Best Short Film Award at the Amiens International Film Festival
– Jury Award at the Provence Terre de Cinéma Festival
– Best Actress Award at the Abidjan International Short Film Festival
– Special Mention at the Milan African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival Amiens Prison Audience Awar
– Amiens Prison Male Prisoners Award

– Winner of the Beaumarchais – Amiens International Film Festival Screenplay Creation Fund