After Romance: portrayals of the body in films by Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis, and Marina de Van- a creative exploration.

Author: Kath Dooley

Dooley, Kath, 2014 After Romance: portrayals of the body in films by Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis, and Marina de Van- a creative exploration., Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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Beginning with Catherine Breillat's controversial film Romance (1999), this creative PhD study examines the work of three female directors prominent within the recent French cinema du corps (cinema of the body) mini-movement: Breillat, Claire Denis and Marina de Van. My thesis integrates formal film analysis, enabling practice, and a final exegetical chapter that charts discoveries made through practice. My aim is to produce new knowledge in regards to these directors' portrayals of the body, which can inform my own practice as an Australian writer/director. The eminence of the body as a matter of special interest within female-authored work in France has been particularly visible in the wake of the cinema du corps: disturbing and often horrific films that explore stark portrayals of the human body, sexual debasement, and trangressive urges. Female directors in France take a formidable approach to the representation of the body, as has been noted by several writers and critics, and is exemplified by the three filmmakers who are the subject of this study. My research is two-pronged: firstly, I provide an analysis of Breillat, Denis and de Van's thematic, stylistic and practical concerns as informed by my own interviews with the directors. Commencing with a description of the status of women directors in the French film industry, I focus on a selection of films produced by the three directors between the years 1999 and 2009. Over a series of chapters I explore areas such as bodily transitions, trauma and foreignness as outlined by theorists such as Gilles Deleuze, Laura Marks and Vivian Sobchack. The second prong of my study involves a research-led film production undertaken as a means to shed new light on the three directors' concerns. By writing and directing a twenty-eight minute film titled The Sister, informed by the three filmmakers' work, I produce an artefact that creates new knowledge about their approaches. This film production is practice as research, enabling a thorough investigation of identified concerns through the writing, preproduction, production and postproduction of a short film work. An analysis of the creative process and the final creative artefact produces conclusions from the vantage point of practitioner. In doing so, I create knowledge 'from the inside'. I conclude by considering how the three French directors' portrayals of the body has informed my own practice as a writer/director within an Australian context.

Keywords: french cinema,cinema of the body,embodiment,practice-led research

Subject: Media Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2014
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Dr Julia Erhart