Isabelle is a film and television screenwriter and director. She wrote and directed the documentary Too Black to Be French?, which was a hit as soon as it broadcasted on French television on July 2015. She has written a book of the same title. Enriched with family, historical and political anecdotes, this more personal version was published in August 2017.
From mainstream series to auteur films, Isabelle’s award-winning audiovisual path reflects her cultural plurality – an advantage that is not necessarily recognized in France, which often fails to see its black citizens as truly French.
Of mixed-race, Isabelle Boni-Claverie is the granddaughter of Alphonse Boni, an African who became a magistrate of the French Republic in the 1930s, and Rose-Marie Galou, a native of the Tarn region of France; a couple who had to celebrate their union by night at a time when mixed marriages were frowned upon.
At the age of 18, Isabelle’s first text, La Grande Dévoreuse (The Great Devourer) was published in the collection Villes d’Exil by Editions Le Monde/La Découverte, then republished ten years later as a novel by Nouvelles Editions Ivoiriennes (NEI).
At 22, she became head of the Revue Noire film section, the first contemporary art magazine devoted to Africa and its diaspora. She also published the short story But You Can’t Run Away from Yourself in the magazine.
She then worked for five years for Afrique Magazine, creating the “My Night With” column. In it, she published reports on nights out with personalities and artists including Alpha Blondy, Princess Erika, Faudel, and Lamine Kouyaté (creator of the fashion label Xuly Bët).
Meeting the film director Claire Denis convinced Isabelle to turn to cinema. After studying Modern Literature at the Sorbonne University, and History of Art at the Ecole du Louvre, she entered La femis film school, graduating in screenwriting in 2000.
In 2005, American actor and producer Danny Glover asked her to adapt Valérie Tong Cuong’s novel, Où je suis (Editions Grasset), to the screen, which became the film Heart of Blackness.
Since, Isabelle has written numerous screenplays for television and cinema, including the comedy Sex, Okra and Salted Butter by Mahamet-Saleh Haroun, Soeur Thérèse.com (TF1), Coeur Océan (France 2) and France’s most-viewed television series, Plus Belle La Vie (France 3).
Isabelle Boni-Claverie has been invited to speak at Columbia University and NYU. She has also been invited by the UN to speak about the place of black women in France.
LA GRANDE DÉVOREUSE (The Great Devourer)
2nd in the Young Francophone Writers’ Awards
LE GÉNIE D’ABOU (the genie of Abou)
Special Jury Award at the Abidjan International Short Film Festival
POUR LA NUIT (FOR THE NIGHT)
Special Oecuménique-Signis Jury Award & Best Short Film Award at the Amiens International Film Festival
Jury Award at the Festival Provence Terre de Cinéma
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 Award
Amiens Prison Male Prisoners Award
CHRONIQUE D’UN APPRIVOISEMENT (CHRONICLE OF A TAMING)
Winner of the Amiens International Film Festival’s Screenplay Creation Fund / Beaumarchais Grant
« One is not born, but rather, becomes black, in other's eyes. »
Her bourgeoise background, life in the wealthy neighborhoods, and qualifications have not spared Isabelle from racism and discrimination.
Isabelle Boni-Claverie has decided to put her talents at the service of Le Vivre-Ensemble, or “Living Together” in France.
She is interested in what hinders black French people’s social ascension and the full recognition of their citizenship.
In 1999, Isabelle made La Coiffeuse de la rue Pétion (The Rue Pétion Hairdresser), examining the question of integration through the lens of an Afro hair salon. Addressing the same theme, Too Black to Be French? was well-received by both critics and audiences in 2015.
In 2010, she created a collective of associations that convinced a major international luxury group to commit to fighting discrimination and in favor of ethnic minority youth education.
Isabelle is Ambassador of the Maison des Journalistes, which enables refugee journalists to continue working in France.
To accompany the publication of her book in 2017, she has launched 50 Shades of Blackness, a web media destined for all those interested in the conditions of harmonious coexistence, whatever the color of their skin.