Valérie Donzelli

Valérie Donzelli

Valérie Donzelli in 2011 at the Cabourg Film Festival
Born (1973-03-02) 2 March 1973
Épinal, Vosges, France
Nationality French
Occupation Film director, actress, screenwriter
Years active 1998–present
Children 2

Valérie Donzelli (born 2 March 1973) is a French actress, filmmaker and screenwriter. She has directed five feature films and two short films since 2008, including the film Declaration of War (2011).

Early life

Valérie Donzelli was born in Épinal (France). She grew up in Créteil, near Paris. She moved to Lille with her family when she was 14 years old before going back to Paris at the age of 19. Before starting to work in the cinema, Donzelli first studied architecture, but abandoned it quickly. She started playing theatre at the municipal conservatory of the 10th arrondissement of Paris, but always kept a bad memory of this period. For a living, she worked at a bakery in Paris. She met Jérémie Elkaïm at that time, who becomes her partner, both in life and at work, and who encouraged her to quit the conservatory and her job at the bakery to become an actress. They now have two kids; the oldest one, Gabriel, inspired the movie Declaration of War. They are now separated, but still have a close relationship.[1][2]


In 2001, Valérie Donzelli was the leading actress in Martha Martha, by Sandrine Veysset, which was presented at Directors' Fortnight, Le Plus Beau Jour de ma vie, and also Entre ses mains. She achieved great success among French public thanks to the French TV show Clara Sheller (2005), in which she plays Jeanne, best friend of the main character. Donzelli's first film, The Queen of Hearts (La Reine des Pommes, 2009), in which she was the leading actress, was more successful than expected. Jérémie Elkaïm is also co-writer. The film was presented at Locarno International Film Festival. Despite of its low budget, the film can be considered as a success because of its 30 000 spectators.[3][4]

In 2011, with the help of her now ex-partner Jérémie Elkaïm, Valérie Donzelli directed her second full-length feature film, Declaration of War. This movie, presented during the 2011 Cannes Festival, achieves great success, public and critic, in France. It is directly inspired by their private life, relating how their couple fought against their son's cancer when he was 18 months.[5] The movie was selected at the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, but was not part of the finalist.

Donzelli directed once again Jérémie Elkaïm in Main dans la main (2012), with also Valérie Lemercier in the leading role.

Donzelli considers that this is always a politic and engaged gesture to make films as women, and admires Agnès Varda for her work and her status of first women filmmaker into French Cinema.[6]

Valérie Donzelli is part of the jury during Locarno International Film Festival in 2013. She presents Que d'Amour!, a TV adaptation from the play The Game of Love and Chance (Le Jeu de l'Amour et du Hasard), by Marivaux, with Comédie-Française' sociétaires.[7]

Her 2015 film Marguerite & Julien was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[8] She was named as the President of the Jury of the International Critics' Week section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[9]




Short films



Film director

Short films



Awards and nominations


Further reading

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