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Friday, September 11, 2020

[TIFF Interview] ‘Violation’ Co-Directors Discuss Creating a Different Kind of Revenge Thriller

One of the hottest titles at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival hails out of Canada and features a breakout performance by one of the film’s directors.

In Violation, set for a World Premiere on Sept. 14th, a traumatic experience drives a woman towards a vengeful extremity.

Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli co-direct the film that also stars Sims-Fewer as the victim of trauma, who senses that her sister is in danger and decides she must protect her at all costs.

Violation is a different take on the trauma-revenge film, one that stems from personal experiences by both filmmakers, and one that the duo hope will help engage people in conversation about sexual abuse, especially by family members. Suggestive spoilers follow.

“The idea for Violation came from a really personal place for both of us. Having both dealt with instances of sexual abuse in our past we were fascinated by the tantalizing idea of revenge,” Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli tell Bloody Disgusting. “What if the person who hurts you is not some stranger in a dark alleyway, but someone close to you? It turns out that this is usually the case for victims of sexual violence, but no one is really talking about this in films about revenge. Probably because it’s more uncomfortable. But these are the ideas that really excite us as filmmakers — looking at the aspects of human nature that people get weird talking about.

“Because Violation is told completely from Miriam’s perspective — it gave us the opportunity to be very in-depth and specific when exploring her motivations,” the duo continue. “There is a sequence in the middle of the film where we see this act of revenge. There is no dialogue for a long time, we just follow Miriam as she goes through these meticulous actions. And what we realize is that her plan, though well thought-out, is unbelievably emotionally and physically taxing. She’s not prepared, and we watch the real horror of her actions play out through her visceral emotional responses. The editing is focused and relentless; never letting you stray from her experiences and emotions. We are forcing you to experience things you might not want to in an unflinching way, guiding you through this post-traumatic landscape where the past and present are constantly speaking to each other. This stylistic choice allowed us to say very specific things in our limited timeframe.”

They add: “Using a non-linear structure to gradually piece together the full story of who our protagonist is and how she arrives at her devastating decisions allows us to add more nuance than we could with a straight linear timeframe. We hope that Violation will add to the continuing debate surrounding the #MeToo movement and get people talking about our responses to trauma, as well as opening up about sexual abuse that is perpetrated by people you trust.”

Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli are trying to approach this subgenre from a different perspective and hope to deliver a new kind of experience with Violation.

“A lot of revenge films (and don’t get us wrong, we love revenge films!) have explored the idea of revenge against the ‘stranger in the alleyway’ – which is pure cathartic wish-fulfillment,” the duo tells us.

“We wanted to add something new to the space, a sort of anti-revenge film. Violation explores what it would feel like to get revenge against someone you love.

“Families are so complicated, and there are a lot of tiny resentments and dynamics that build a portrait of these relationships,” they add. “It was important for us to give depth to all our characters. We wanted to challenge people’s perceptions — creating characters and situations that you can interpret in a myriad of different ways — and the cast of Violation really brought a wealth of intricacy and depth to their roles. It is impossible to see them in just one light.

“We really wanted to make a revenge film that pushed the boundaries of the genre,” they insert, “challenging the tropes of the half-naked woman becoming empowered by violent revenge against a menacing stranger, and that revenge is the cathartic climax we are all seeking at the end of the movie. Yes, it is a film about seeking retribution, but also about the cost of that retribution. It is a film about violation, but also about lack of empathy and selfishness, and how both can erode your morality and the relationships around you.”

Violation has a lot to say and because of this, it walks a fine line between the drama, horror and thriller genres. Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli talk a little bit about how they approached the material and what audiences can expect when they finally experience the film.

“Violation imagines, in unflinching detail what the real-world implications of an act of revenge could look like, and this definitely places it in between a psychological thriller and a dark family drama. There is a sense of dread that we wanted to run through the narrative, even in the lighter moments between the characters. It is definitely radically different in terms of how cinema traditionally frames revenge narratives – but where is the fun in staying within the realms of tradition?

“Our use of full-frontal male nudity reveals the double standards we have in the differences of on-screen representation of male and female bodies,” they add. “We wanted to sexualize the male body – giving power to the female gaze.

“While the nudity is provocative, and will definitely be reacted to quite strongly, we think that it really underlines a fragility and vulnerability that has been eroded from the sheer volume of similar depictions of women. Why is it so rare and surprising and even shocking or funny to be confronted with male nudity?

“While Violation is definitely horrific, it draws more parallels with films such as Don’t Look Now, or Cache; films that revolve around relationship dynamics but are punctuated with moments of extreme and shocking violence.

“At its heart, this is a film about two sisters, which hopefully will open the door to people who might normally avoid straight-up genre.”

Violation has its World Premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival next Monday, September 14th. Watch for our review.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3630809/violation-tiff-interview-revenge-horror/

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