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White Material (2009)

Not Rated | | Drama | 24 March 2010 (France)
1:45 | Trailer
Amidst turmoil and racial conflict in Africa, a French woman fights for her coffee crop, her family and ultimately for her life.



(scenario), (scenario) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
André Vial (as Christophe Lambert)
Adèle Ado ...
Lucie, la femme d'André
Ali Barkai ...
Jean-Marie Ahanda
Martin Poulibe
Patrice Eya
Serge Mong
Mama Njouam
Thomas Dumerchez
Christine-Ange Tatah


Denis revisits Africa, this time exploring a place rife with civil and racial conflict. A white French family outlawed in its home and attempting to save its coffee plantation connects with a black hero also embroiled in the tumult. All try to survive as their world rapidly crumbles around them Written by Pusan International Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In the African heat, one woman stands alone




Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

24 March 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Biala Afryka  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£23,285 (UK) (9 July 2010)


$302,819 (USA) (28 January 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film came about because Isabelle Huppert approached Claire Denis, asking her if they could work together. See more »


The position of the goat's head in the coffee beans changes between shots. See more »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.13 (2011) See more »


Jah Give Us Life (Don't Feel No Way)
Written by W. Matthews
Performed by Wailing Souls
See more »

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User Reviews

Taste of colonialism
12 November 2013 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

How does a country descend into civil war, and from there, to genocidal slaughter? Some of the most terrible stories of recent years come from Africa (poverty being one obvious driver) and this film, like the more famous 'Hotel Rwanda', is set in such terrain. I personally found the latter film unsatisfactory, as it told a story of basically good people attacked, in effect, by mindless zombies: 'White Material' is better at giving a portrait of life in a society where the pillars of order are crumbling, and thereby offers a more convincing narrative as to how the bonds of normal human decency might break. It also offers an interesting perspective by looking at events from the viewpoint of white farmers: not evil per se (although the film doesn't make them particularly sympathetic), but owning too many resources in a land that sees that claim to title as rooted in the colonial past. What doesn't work, for me, is the particular plot: while the mood of the characters, and of their world, is well created, the details of the situation remain unclear: who does what to who, and why, remains frustratingly enigmatic. Isabelle Huppert is good in the lead role; but the absence of a black African in a role of matching prominence is arguably a weakness, the murder goes on and the explanation is never quite forthcoming. Perhaps that's asking too much of a mere movie: if the explanation was obvious, the world would not have to endure so much pointless suffering.

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