news

18  06  2008

Production

Kechiche’s "Hottentot Venus"

Having signed a three-film contract with MK2, Abdellatif Kechiche has started the casting and preparation for his fourth feature, which is scheduled to shoot in the first half of 2009.

After Blame It on Voltaire, Games of Love and Chance and The Secret of the Grain, the director will depart from a contemporary setting for the first time and plunge viewers into the early 19th century, retracing the experiences of an African woman confronted with racism in Europe: Saartjie Baartman, known as the "Hottentot Venus".

Born in 1789 in what is now South Africa, Sawtche was brought to London as a slave in 1810 and christened Saartjie Baartman. Resold, she was then paraded naked like a fairground animal in England, Holland and France, in particular due to her physical appearance (steatopygia: hypertrophy of the hips and buttocks) which was unusual in Europe.

The subject of studies by scientists and painters, the "Hottentot Venus" was also used as a sex object (prostitution, private parties) and died in Paris in 1815 after a dramatic life which reveals the way in which Europeans once treated those they considered representatives of "inferior races".

Kechiche has enjoyed exceptional success with his three previous features. Winner of the Golden Lion for Best Debut Film at Venice in 2000 for Blame It on Voltaire, he then picked up four Cesar awards in 2005 (Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Female Newcomer) for Games of Love and Chance. He repeated this quadruple Cesar triumph in 2008 with The Secret of the Grain, which also scooped three awards at the latest Venice Film Festival (Special Jury Prize, Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Emerging Actress and the Fipresci Prize), as well as the 2007 Louis-Delluc Award.