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Closer Look: Freak Show Attractions in Abdellatif Kechiche’s Black Venus

Last week, we showed you a behind the scenes look at Abdellatif Kechiche’s Black Venus (La Vénus Noire), this week we have a first look at what would have been the common carnival setting.

Last week, we showed you a behind the scenes look at Abdellatif Kechiche’s Black Venus (La Vénus Noire), this week we have a first look at what would have been the common carnival setting. When you think about it – Kim Kardashian might be considered a modern day Hottentot Venus. The porn tape leak celeb might have faired better than Sarah Baartman (see wiki entry) – the central, true story character in Kechiche’s 19th century exploration on racism — but they both faced public mockery due to being endowed with their bottoms. Right behind Malick, this ranked number 2 on our most anticipated films for 2010 and we get a sense that this love for Kechiche’s work is shared by top tier fests: this will be competing in Venice and has landed a date at the NYFF. I’m crossing my fingers for TIFF. Here’s the NYFF description after the jump:

Abdellatif Kechiche Black Venus La Vénus Noire

This unforgettable telling of the short, deplorable existence of the “Hottentot Venus”-née Saartjie Baartman, a slave from Cape Town who was exhibited as a freak-show attraction in early nineteenth-century Europe-Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain) delivers a riveting examination of racism. Gawked at and groped in grimy carnivals in London and, later, high-society Parisian salons, Baartman soon becomes the object of prurient fascination of French scientists, obsessed with calibrating every part of her anatomy-particularly her enlarged buttocks and genitals. Though Baartman’s life was unspeakably grim, Yahima Torres’s remarkably complex portrayal of the title character reveals not just a mute symbol of victimhood but also a woman capable of fierce defiance.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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