THE 61ST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF DOCUMENTARY AND SHORT FILM OF BILBAO – ZINEBI AWARDS THE SECOND MIKELDI OF HONOUR TO FRANCESA CLAIRE SIMON IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HER COMMITMENT TO RENEWING THE LANGUAGE AND NARRATIVES FORMS OF CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN CINEMA

In collaboration with the Institut Français de Bilbao, ZINEBI 61 will host the Spanish presentation of the documentary series Le Village, which she has just filmed and which tackles the relationship between film and agriculture and how both sectors have to overcome market laws to produce and distribute what they love most: wine and films.

ZINEBI 61 will take place from 8 to 15 November and the award will be presented at the Teatro Arriaga, the main festival venue, during the Opening Gala, which will begin at 8 p.m.

Bilbao, 10 October 2019. The International Festival of Documentary and Short Film of Bilbao (ZINEBI)—organised by Bilbao City Council—will award a second Mikeldi of Honour to the French filmmaker Claire Simon in acknowledgement of her commitment to the radical renewal of language and the narrative and aesthetic forms of contemporary European cinema. She will receive the festival’s tribute during the ZINEBI 61 Opening Gala, which will take place at the Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao on November 8th, starting at 8 p.m.

After studying Ethnology and learning Arabic and Berber, the actress, photographer, scriptwriter, editor and producer Claire Simon (London, 1955) began her cinematographic career through self-education. Her first short film was Madeleine (1976), which was followed by Tandis que j’agonise (1980) and Moi, non où l’argent de Patricia (1981). Soon afterwards, she learnt the practice of what is known as direct cinema at the Ateliers Varan, founded by Jean Rouch, and directed several feature-length documentaries, including Les patients (1989), Coûte que coûte (1995) and Récréations (1998), for which she obtained numerous awards at different international festivals.

Her first fiction feature film, Sinon, oui (1997), was screened during the Quinzaine des Realisateurs at the Cannes Festival. Her next work, Ça c’est vraiement toi (2000), a combination of documentary and fiction, was filmed inside the European Parliament and won the Jury Grand Prix at the Entrevues Belfort International Film Festival (France). She returned to documentary film with 800 kms de différence /Romance (2000) and Mimi (2003), both of which were presented at the Berlinale.

Her second fiction film, Ça brûle (2006), was also screened during the Cannes Quinzaine. Again, combining documentary and fiction, in 2008, she directed Les bureaux de Dieu, and once more participated in the Quinzaine. From 2008 to 2013, she worked on an ambitious fiction project, the diptych formed by Géographie humaine and Gare du Nord.

She was appointed the French Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 2014, and in 2016, she made the feature-length documentary Le concours, based on the entrance exams for students hoping to study at La Femis, the prestigious audiovisual school where she herself worked as a teacher. This film received the Award for the Best Documentary from the Venice International Film Festival that same year and also formed part of the non-competitive section Beautiful Docs at ZINEBI 58.

In 2018, she made the documentary Premières solitudes, which premiered in the Forum section of the 68th Berlinale, a funny, malicious portrait that ridicules the common grounds and clichés that exist amongst modern-day adolescents. Her filmography as a whole is openly eclectic, hybrid and very aware of the need to overcome any kind of formal barrier between the different cinematographic genres.

This year, she finished making her documentary series Le village, with 18 half-hour episodes. It is a kind of thriller about the relationship between documentary film and agriculture in a little town in the French region of Ardèche, where wine-growers and documentary film distributors stand up to market laws in order to make and sell what they love: vines, wine and films. In collaboration with the Institut Français de Bilbao, ZINEBI 61 will host the Spanish presentation of this series and the filmmaker will give a masterclass—open to the general public—about her concerns, creative processes and her view of contemporary cinema. All of this will take place at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum the first weekend of the festival.