Les Bureaux de Dieu

Belgium/France 2007, Feature film, 119' | Director Claire Simon | Screenplay Claire Simon, Natalia Rodríguez | DoP Claire Simon, Philippe Van Leeuw | Editor Julien Lacheray | Sound Olivier Hespel, Mathieu Cox, Frédéric Fichefet | Music Arthur Simon | Cast Nathalie Baye, Béatrice Dalle, Rachida Brakni, Isabelle Carré, Anne Alvaro, Nicole Garcia, Michel Boujenah, Lolita Chammah | Production Les films d'ici | Distribution Films Boutique (Germany)

Djamila would like to take the pill, as things are getting serious with her boyfriend. Zoe’s mother gives us some condoms, but treats her like a whore. Nedjma hides her pills outside the house because her mother searches her handbag. Hélène thinks that she is too fertile. Clémence is afraid. Adeline would have liked to have kept it. Margot as well. Maria Angela would like to have known who got her pregnant. Ana Maria has chosen love and freedom. Anne, Denise, Marta, Yasmine are the counsellors at the centre for family-planning, they welcome every single women who comes to them, and listen to them as they wonder how sexual freedom is possible.

The film Les bureaux de Dieu, presented at the Cannes festival in the Quinzaine des réalisateurs programme, runs a narrow line between feature film and documentary: female actors and lay actors have discussions, shot in long takes, which have the feel of a documentary. The stories are based on real talks that the director Claire Simon experienced in a counselling centre for family-planning in Grenoble. “Although we live in a world in which sex is omnipresent”, says leading actress Nathalie Baye, “women cannot talk with their partners or family about the things that they talk about here”. And Claire Simon wrote during filming: “I feel like I am painting all the women that I have seen in the centre, showing their faces, gestures and their silence – and not just their words.”


Claire Simon started her film career as a film editor. She directed a number of short films, including Scènes de ménage in 1991 with Miou Miou. Eventually Simon discovered direct cinema and began making documentations that won many awards. Films such as Coûte que coûte (1996) and Récréations (1998) found their way into cinemas, contributing to a renaissance of the documentary film in France. With Sinon, oui (1997) she presented her first full-length feature film. In the television production Ça, c'est vraiment toi (2000), Simon for the first time worked simultaneously with fictional and documentary resources. The film won the first prize for feature and documentary film at the Festival du Film Belfort.

Claire Simon
France, Belgium
Feature Film
Competition for Women Directors