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March 14

An Evening with Claire Simon

Claire Simon's films capture the poetry and beauty of the everyday, even as they carefully consider the ways in which the everyday is shaped by larger forces of history, economics and politics. Given Simon's subtle (and sympathetic) style – her camera stays close to its subjects, creating a sense of intimacy without being invasive or exploitive – it is perhaps no surprise that Simon studied ethnography before turning to filmmaking. At All Costs brought her international renown, and while Simon continues to work in the documentary form, she has also turned to fictional features, such as her most recent film, Ça Brûle (2006). On the occasion of an extended visit by Simon to Harvard's Visual and Environmental Studies Department, the Harvard Film Archive is delighted to present the film that remains Simon's signature work.

Special thanks to Brigitte Bouvier and French Cultural Services, the Center for European Studies and Dominique Bluher and the Visual and Environmental Studies Department.

Special Event Tickets $10
Friday March 14 at 7pm

At All Costs (Coûte que coûte)

Directed by Claire Simon, Appearing in Person
France 1996, 35mm, color, 95 min.
French with English subtitles

This documentary follows the fortunes of a small business in trouble. The business in question makes and packages ready-to-eat meals sold in supermarkets. Simon's patient camera catches the tensions and camaraderie among the several employees – from cooks to secretaries – and the boss, a blustery go-getter. No heroes or villains here, just a group of flawed human beings mostly (but not always) acting in good faith and struggling against the odds.


Directed by Claire Simon, Appearing in Person
France 1998, video, color, 55 min.
French with English subtitles

Using a small hand-held camera, Simon observes children at play in a schoolyard. She captures small but intense vignettes of competition, friendship, utter cruelty, rivalry, loneliness and compassion. The French cinema’s fondness for children has rarely borne such bitter and illuminating fruit.

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