In the days leading up to Fantastic Fest, the normally jovial atmosphere was marred with scandal. The full scope of which can be read here, but in summation, there were a number of sexual harassment and assault claims involving major pillars of the festival, and the subsequent handling of those claims by said pillars. As a result, the festival lost two major programmers who quit over the news, guests cancelled their appearances, and Fox Searchlight pulled the opening night movie from the festival lineup.
Coralie Fargeat thought about pulling her film from the lineup as well, but instead proceeded with its screening, realizing the film’s inclusion would stand as a powerful message; we will not remain silent any more. Her conviction and explanation prior to the film’s screening won me over instantly, and the brutal genre film that followed her fierce words only affirmed what I’d already suspected; Revenge is a powerful anthem and a scathing critique on rape culture meant to serve as a starting point of discussion (review). It’s a film that’s only grown in relevance given the Harvey Weinstein allegations that have rocked Hollywood in the weeks since.
After the screening, we sat down with Fargeat to discuss the importance of female voices in the genre, the social context of her narrative, just how tricky it was to shoot with all of that sticky, slippery blood, and more. Read on for our spoiler free chat.
I wanted to start by thanking you for your powerful statement before the screening and for deciding to proceed with the screening in the first place. This film presents a very necessary voice that’s been missing from the genre. I think this was the first rape/revenge film from a female filmmaker, can you speak on the film’s creation?
Despite all the carnage and blood, the thing that stood out most to me is just how authentic these characters are. The three men at the center of the story are all authentic portrayals of what women encounter on a regular basis; each kind of represent a different type of evil. How did you set about creating such authentic voices?
This movie is a discussion piece, and it’s a bit of a powerful anthem for women. What would you like men to come away with after watching?
Are you familiar with the rape/revenge sub-genre, and films like I Spit on Your Grave?
I wanted to circle back to the desert setting, which you mentioned in the Q&A for being a sort of universal setting, but I imagine it would also be an extremely harsh environment to film in. What was that like?
The amount of blood, especially during the movie’s climax, how difficult was that on a technical level? It looks like it would be so difficult to reset a shot.
There’s not a whole lot of genre films in France, do you think that that’s something that’s changing? Between Julia Ducournau’s breakout last year with Raw and this amazing debut, I feel like women are making powerful statements about what the genre can offer.
Will your next film have genre elements as well?
Revenge has been acquired by Shudder for exclusive, early 2018 release.