Here’s How Canadian Film Violation Subverts the Male Gaze

Here’s How Canadian Film Violation Subverts the Male Gaze
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Trigger warning: This article contains references to sexual assault and violence.

Perhaps if I saw some short films by Canadian filmmaker duo Medellin Sims-Feuer and Dusty Mankenley before the TIFF premiere of their first feature. Violation, I would have prepared a bit more that would appear on screen.

Like his earlier works, which deal with themes of sexual assault and violence with a delicate ambiguity, the film revolves around breach of trust. But it was seen that this is a feature-length project that is opposed to 10- or 20-minute short, Violation Gives room to the filmmakers to find out what comes next after the betrayal. By doing so, his film joins the canon of both rape-avenging films, which form a distinct subset of the horror genre, and even break it down. (Fair warning: this will be a difficult film to watch unless your threshold for gruesome violence is too high.)

The film features two iconic sisters, who reunite over a weekend, with husband, Toe, in a secluded cabin. Sims-Feuer played both the co-director and the lead, stating that she knew she could push herself to the emotional and physical extremes necessary for her character Miriam. Without giving too much away, Miriam is sexually abused by her brother-in-law Dylan (played by Jessie Lavercombe with chilling complexity), and decides to take revenge in a truly excruciating, bloody way. The changed sequence is played on screen in serious, methodical detail; A far cry from an almost superhero-like spontaneity with which other films have been avenged.

“For us it’s really a vengeful film,” says Sims-Favre on the phone from his home in Toronto. “Revenge is not the answer. What was interesting and important to us was asking ‘how to destroy your own sense of revenge and morality?’ It is important to think about people and talk to them about how you overcome trauma that is truly useful and healthy, and does not destroy you. Because it is not required. I think that often revenge films support the idea that trauma destroys you and the only way to overcome it is the same act of violence. But those painstaking things [Miriam] Instead of taking him away, the trauma inside him has to increase further. “

Sims-Feuer and his creative partner Manneli — who met at TIFF Talent Lab in 2015 — were both victims of sexual abuse, and their films are a way for them to do those acts of trauma.

Violation
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“The film is very personal for me and Dusty. One thing we talked about starting early in the writing process was our own revenge fantasies. When someone close to you has done injustice to you in that way, I think a lot of people think that the revenge they will get, or that will give you peace. I think Mary’s methodical plan is fantasy. And when she comes to reality, she is not ready; He is not rigid enough. “

The film stands apart from other vengeful films – a runner-up Sims-Favre grew up watching and is a huge fanbase – is how audiences are not encouraged to spontaneously root for Miriam. He is articulate, and his commitment to the gruesome work of revenge-seeking churning. But this is exactly what the filmmakers wanted to communicate to their audiences.

“There is something really interesting for me in characters whose motivations are not always good, and not always obvious. Some of my favorite characters in films are very complex, such as in Harvey Keitel’s character The bad lieutenant And Travis Bickel Inn Cab driver. Walter White Inn Breaking bed One of the most beautiful and complex and interesting character arcs. I have not seen many films with female characters, whose flaws have a similar complexity. And so creating this character was really interesting for both of us, who are probably blind to the true nature of his inspirations. “

In investigating an act of sexual violence known to the victim, the film also deals with thorny issues of consent, gaslighting and manipulation. It also consciously evades the exploitative tropes of the rape-retaliation sub-origin, focusing on the female body rather than the male body responsible for the act of violation.

“The person who is inflicting this trauma, his body is a weapon,” Sims-Fuer says. “So we wanted to show the naked male body from Mary’s point of view and how it’s a threat to her … but also, he’s regaining power. A man in a weak naked position and fully clothed in a scene There is something unusual to see a woman wearing. “

The film can overturn power structures and stare male gaze, but it is far from a story or a redemptive story. It is annoying and disorienting, and it forces the viewer to face many different forms of trauma – some self-inflicted and invisible, others unknowingly sadistic and visceral.

“I definitely knew that this was going to be a tough, challenging film for people, but it’s the reaction we’re looking forward to – to keep you on edge and make you feel uncomfortable.”

mission accomplished.

If you are currently experiencing or experiencing sexual violence, find province-specific resources here: Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (Alberta), WAVAW Rape Crisis Center (British Columbia), Clinic Sexual Assault Crisis Line ( Manitoba), Sexual Violence New Brunswick (New Brunswick), Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Center (Newfoundland and Labrador), Yellowknife Victim Services (Northwest Territories), Break Silence (Nova Milia), Ontario Coalition of Rap Crisis Centers (Ontario ), Prince Edward Island Rape Sexual Assault Center (Prince Edward Island), Montreal Sexual Assault Center (Quebec), Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan), and Yukon Victim Services (Yukon) sexual assault services.

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