Too Black to be French?

Director: Isabelle Boni-Claverie
Country: France
Year: 2015
Running Time: 52 min.
Language: French with English subtitles


In 2010, offended by the racist comments against black people held by Jean Paul Guerlain on the France 2 TV news, Isabelle Boni-Claverie organized several demonstrations on the Champs Élysées, negotiated with the LVMH group and obtained a series of measures to promote diversity. However, this incident, which she documents in the film, left her with a bad taste. How is it that today, in France, this is still happening? In response to this question, using a first-person approach, the filmmaker leads an investigation. She invokes the model story of her grandparents, an interracial couple of the 1930s. Reflecting on her upper middle-class childhood, she probes the relationship between class and race. Not without humor, in the manner of: “You know you are black when…”, she asks would-be interlocutors to testify before the camera about the exasperations that they experience. Both personal and collective, the film does not hesitate to call existing policies into question.

About the Director

Isabelle Boni-Claverie

Biography: Isabelle Boni-Claverie was born in 1972 in Ivory Coast in a mixed French/Ivorian family. Isabelle’s writing talent was first noticed when she was only 18. Her novel La Grande Dévoreuse (The Great Devourer) received an award at “Le Prix du Jeune Ecrivain Francophone” and was published by Les Editions de La Découverte. Ten years later it was published again, in Ivory Coast this time, by NEI. From 1993 to 2005, Isabelle wrote for several news magazines and publications like the very prestigious Revue Noire, dedicated to African Contemporary Art. In 2000 she graduated from La Fémis, one of the best film schools in France. She specialized in screenwriting and assisted young French and International filmakers with their scripts. Meanwhile she directed her own short films and documentaries, all of them widely screened in international film festivals and/or multi-awarded. Since 2007, Isabelle has worked on very popular TV programs and more “art house” cinema projects. Isabelle Boni-Claverie lives and works in Paris.


Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
Le Génie d’Abou [Abu’s Genie] (2000);
Pour la nuit [For the Night] (2005);
Too Black to be French? (2016).

Le Génie d’Abou [Abu’s Genie] (1998);
La Coiffeuse de la rue Pétion (1999);
L’Image, le Vent et Gary Cooper (2001);
Documenta Opening Night (2002);
Pour la nuit [For the Night] (2004);
Heart of Blackness (2011);
Too Black to be French? (2016).