Ora Gelley (NC State): “Violence and the Gaze in Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl (À Ma Soeur!)”
Catherine Breillat has in recent years become a prominent figure in what has been perceived by many as a new trend in contemporary European art cinema, towards extreme representations of violence and graphic sexuality. She is one of a number of contemporary filmmakers (including, for instance, Virginie Despentes and Lars Von Trier) who aim in their work to deploy new forms of violence and transgressive action in film as a means of revealing as well as challenging the violence and brutality of entrenched cultural traditions and representational codes. Breillat's controversial Fat Girl (À ma soeur, 2001) has been described by the director as part of a "decalogue" of ten full length films that "return obsessively to a thematic kernel concerned with relations between the sexes, and the nature of female sexual identity." These films are focused on the painful transition of adolescent girls to womanhood and the violent, at times murderous sentiments the director understands to be at the heart of sexual encounters between men and women. My paper will look at how Breillat subverts conventional cinematic practice in Fat Girl (through, for example, her manipulation of the gaze, and the ways in which she disrupts and breaks down established narrative forms) in order to offer spectators a new–critically engaged, denunciatory, and often uncomfortable–experience of cinematic sexuality and violence.
Ora Gelley is Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the English Department at North Carolina State University. Her research interests include film theory, feminist theory and criticism, transnational cinema, and the representation of violence in film and other visual media. Her book, Stardom and the Aesthetics of Neorealism: Ingrid Bergman in Rossellini's Italy was published in 2012 by Routledge. Her current research project is focused on "Film Form and Violence in New European Cinema." Her essays have appeared in Film Studies, Critical Inquiry, Film Criticism, and Cinema Journal.
This is the second and final TFS Lecture this semeseter.
This event will take place in Toy Lounge, fourth floor of Dey Hall, on campus at UNC Chapel Hill.
The Triangle Film Salon is a series of lectures sponsored by the Global Film Minor and the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC Chapel Hill.