Filmmakers Who Edit: DAVIS to DUNYE

Filmmakers Who (always or sometimes) Edit:
Davis to Dunye

Zeinabu irene Davis

Véronique N. Doumbé

Johanna Demetrakas

Germaine Dulac

Tina DiFeliciantonio & Jane Wagner

Cheryl Dunye


Mathilde Bonnefoy, ACE

Born 1972

Mathilde Bonnefoy, ACE is a French film editor and director. Run, Lola, Run was the first of six films she edited for Tom Twyker; it was nominated for an ACE Award. She edited Soul of a Man and Invisibles for Wim Wenders. As editor and co-producer of Laura Poitras’ Citizen Four, she won both an ACE and an Oscar.

“Yes, yes. I’m always extremely careful to steer away from the clichéd idea that the editor is only making the vision of the director blossom—because in a way it’s true, but then one has to be very, very careful about how one expresses it, because of all of these clichés about directors being very often male, which is not the case so much anymore, but it’s still predominantly the case, and editors being predominantly female. One always thinks of the director as the creative mastermind, and everyone just working towards an optimal result, which is true, but it’s not.
I mean, the editing process is extremely close to the writing process. You write with images and sounds, you really do, and you constantly make decisions that will alter the audio-visual sentence you are creating. In doing that, even the smallest change changes the nuance of that sentence, which in turn will change the nuance of the whole paragraph, and in the end, the whole story. And you do that all the time. That is a major, major recreation of the script, or, in other words, it’s the last moment of writing the script. That’s the final writing. So it’s crucial. The script has been destroyed, in a way, by the shoot. It has been cut into pieces, and made to be a huge mess, and then you create from scratch, in a way, a new film. That’s what editing is. And of course the editor in that process is crucial, and I’ve been very influential in steering films in directions, even though, naturally, we have had many discussions about everything we’re doing.”
The Wonders of Editing: An Interview with Mathilde Bonnefoy and Tom Tykwer” by Elaine Roth and Heather Addison. The full interview can be found in the Appendix.

“The finishing touch of a film is done in the editing. This gives the editor a great responsibility. The slightest decision can change the whole mood of the film. That’s the fascination of film editing.”
From the filmSchnitt in Raum und Zeit” by the director and editor Gabriele Voss


Agnès Guillemot

1931 – 2005

Agnès Guillemot was renowned for her collaboration with the Nouvelle Vague directors, having worked on numerous films with both Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut.
She edited sixteen films for Godard, beginning with Une femme est une femme, followed by Contempt, Alphaville, Bande à part , Masculin Féminin, Vivre Sa Vie, Weekend, etc. In some cases, she was the sole editor; on others, she worked either with Françoise Collin, Lila Lakshmanan, Dahlia Ezove, Lila Herman, Marguerite Renoir, or Delphine Desfons.
During that same period, Guillemot edited four films for Truffaut, including L’enfant sauvage/The Wild Child and Baisers volés/Stolen Kisses.
In the late 1970’s she edited five films for Jean-Charles Tacchella, including Cousin cousine and Il y a longtemps que je t’aime.
In the 1990’s she was the editor of three films for Catherine Breillat (Sale comme un ange/Dirty Like an Angel, Romance and Parfait amour!/Perfect Love.)
Guillemot also edited films for several other women directors, including Nicole Garcia, Catherine Corsini, Francesca Comencini and Paula Delsol.

“Editing has one marvelous thing—you are alone with the material and you listen. I use many metaphors, metaphors you use when talking about painters and sculptors. They look at a landscape, a stone; the stone inspires them to do this or that. Editing is the same. The material is given by somebody else, but I listen to it afresh. I do not try to make it mine, I try to produce what it can do. The object is inside—it must be made to come out. It is exactly this—I listen, I look a long time with all my being and I extract what the director wants.”
—Agnès Guillemot interviewed in “Fine Cuts: The Art of European Film Editing” by Roger Crittenden. The full interview can be found in the Appendix.



Marguerite Renoir

1906 – 1987

In 1921, at age fifteen, Marguerite Renoir (née Houllé) began as an apprentice colorist at Pathé Studios. She has seventy editing credits from 1929-1972, notably for numerous films by Jean Renoir including Boudu Saved From Drowning, Rules of the Game (co-edited with Marthe Huguet), A Day in the Country, La Bête Humaine, and Grand Illusion. Renoir also edited several films for Jacques Becker, including Casque d’or, and one for Luis Buñuel. She also worked with Agnès Guillemot on the editing of Godard’s Masculin féminin. She and Renoir never married, but she adopted his last name; sometimes her film credits read Marguerite Houllé-Renoir.

“Renoir was fortunate to have Marguerite as his editor; what she did in his absence with A Day in the Country attests to how much he owed her in his other films of the thirties. His predilection for long takes and the avoidance of the conventional shot breakdown have led commentators to neglect the editing of his film. This is a mistake. His style called for a different kind of editing that required special skill. Marguerite had that skill. It is time that her talent and accomplishment be recognized.”
—Gilberto Perez quoted in “Marguerite Renoir: More Than He Deserved?” from “Fine Cuts: Interviews on the Practice of European Film Editing” by Roger Crittenden. The full text can be found in the appendix.

Jean Fléchet: How did the three of you come to work in film?

Marguerite Renoir: By chance, as far as I’m concerned, or rather, due to my bad disposition.
I worked at Pathé as a colorist trainee. At the time, we were doing color films by applying garishly colored dyes straight onto the negatives. One day I was coloring a Passion of Christ when a storm broke out, and the resulting humidity made my dyes bleed on my film-strip. My department head came along and gave me a nasty talking-to. “Ma’am,” I answered, “instead of yelling at me, you’d better explain why the storm made the colors run.” This act of impertinence was not well received, and I was fired on the spot. I went to speak with the director. He agreed that I was innocent but did not want to contradict my department head, so I was transferred to editing. That was in 1921.


Jean Fléchet: Actually, isn’t the role of the chief editor in the making of a film a bit like that of a mother?

MR: Yes, I am convinced that out of all the technicians that work on a film, the editor has the greatest attachment to the film – indeed, a physical, an emotional attachment.

Suzanne de Troye: Pagnol used to always say to me on the day of the film’s premiere, “So Suzanne, we’re giving birth…” It was just as painful, in fact.

MR: We spend such a long time on the film – four or five months, sometimes more – that we get really attached to it, and then when is everything is done and you have to put away all the bits of film that, as we say “ended up on the cutting room floor,” one by one, it’s often emotionally painful.

S de T: The editor is the one who stays the longest with the film – that’s very important.

MR: We have the most intense contact with the film – not that we get anything out of it.

Two extracts from “L’Actualite du Montage: Trois chefs-monteuses, Margeurite Renoir, Suzanne de Troye et Marinette Cadix nous entretiennent de leur métier” by Jean Fléchet. The full interview (in English) can be found in the appendix.