A graduate of the prestigious IDHEC, Claire Denis began her professional career making short films, mostly produced by Pathé for the Chronicles of France series. A key member of the new wave of female French directors, Denis worked for more than 10 years as a production assistant and assistant director before winning international acclaim with her first feature film, Chocolat (1988), a semi-autobiographical tale of a young French girl in Africa. Following the success of Chocolat, Denis directed Man No Run (1989), a concert film with the Cameroon band Les Tetes Brulees. She wrote and directed J’ai pas sommeil (1993), a thriller which examined the intersection of seemingly unrelated, yet overlapping lives, and the coming of age tale U.S. Go Home (1994).
Denis made a series of shorts, documentaries and award-winning films throughout the 1990s and 2000s, most notably directing the critically acclaimed Beau travail (1999) and 35 Shots of Rum (2008). In 2013, Denis was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Stockholm Film Festival.