Director Denis Cote Reveals Progressive Kidney Disease

The helmer of such films as the Berlin Golden Bear nominee ‘Boris Without Beatrice’ says he will soon be on dialysis.

Controversial Canadian New Wave filmmaker Denis Cote has revealed that one reason he has not sought a Hollywood career is that progressive kidney disease will soon mean he will need regular dialysis.

Cote — who is attending the 52nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic this week, where he has been acting as a mentor in its talent development campus, Future Frames — said degenerative kidney disease is among the reasons he has not branched out beyond the experimental and sometimes controversial films he makes in his home region of Quebec in French-speaking Canada.

Speaking about the possibility of making a Hollywood movie, Cote told The Hollywood Reporter: “It is not that I am intimidated or not interested … but I have health problems. I am going towards dialysis and it is very hard to project myself into the future.”

A contemporary and friend of fellow French-Canadian directors Denis Villeneuve and Xavier Dolan — both of whom are now working in Hollywood — Cote said he believes that the “door is not closed” but that he has little interest in pursuing a career away from home.

“I see films like [Villeneuve’s] Arrival. I am not jealous. I am just completely outside that. I guess that I am just this cinephile guy who wants to experiment, and Hollywood is not my playground,” Cote said. 

Cote’s experimental films include Bestiaire — a 70-minute documentary composed of static shots of zoo animals gazing directly into the camera — and bigger-budget features such as Boris Without Beatrice, which was in competition in Berlin last year.

His next film, A Skin So Soft, is a study of bodybuilders that combines documentary and fiction elements and will receive its world premiere next month at the 70th edition of the Locarno Film Festival. Locarno has repeatedly lauded Cote’s work since 2005, most recently with best director honors in 2010 for Curling, the story of an overprotective father who shields his daughter from society by keeping her at home.

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