Born in Paris in 1946. She lived in a number of African countries until the age of 12. She studied at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques where she met cinematographer Agnès Godard, with whom she would later collaborate on the majority of her films. She began her film career as an assistant to directors including Robert Enrico, Wim Wenders, Costa-Gavras, Jacques Rivette and Jim Jarmusch. One of the most important fimmakers of the comtemporary cinema, she made films like Chocolat (1988), No Fear, No Die (1990), Nenette and Boni (1996), Beau Travail (1999), Trouble Every Day (2001), Friday Night (2002), The Intruder (2005), 35 Shots of Rum (2009), White Material (2010), Bastards (2013) and High Life (2018), presented and awarded at film festivais like Cannes, Berlin and Venice.