Horrible Imaginings Podcast #184: M.F.A. Director Natalia Leite Subverts the Rape-Revenge Subgenre
Rape Revenge films are perhaps the most replete with conflict for conscientious audience members who find themselves, for one reason or another, drawn to them. Whether people feel comfortable admitting it or not, this especially dark and often nasty subgenre is a lucrative one, with thousands of imitations and similar stories released worldwide. Some of the most notorious have been remade, including the Day of the Woman or I Spit on Your Grave remake launching a franchise of three films, and a sequel to the 1978 original, starring Camille Keaton and directed by the original’s Meir Zarchi set to come out this year.
The profitability of rape revenge films has a lot of angry detractors, as well as a lot of supporters, a fact attributable not only to the sensationalistic and brutal nature of these movies, but also to the stark duality in their simple narrative structures. Are they about the rape or the revenge? How much time is devoted to each of those violent acts? These things have been discussed often, but one question that should always be asked is who is telling these stories and why?
Earlier this year saw the release of a film that is listed as a psychological thriller, but is certainly a rape revenge film. It is called M.F.A., and it is written by Leah McKendrick, a woman also has a role in the film, and directed by Natalia Leite. In this film, Francesca Eastwood plays Noelle an art student who suffers a brutal rape at the hands of a fellow art major. Her experiences following this trauma lead to Noelle taking matters in her own hands. I am happy to say that Leite has decided to take some time to join me to discuss her thoughts behind this challenging project, and most importantly why it is important that women take charge of telling these stories.
This episode will be in two parts, the first part being spoiler free before delving more deeply into the story of M.F.A. There will be plenty of warnings before we go too far into spoiler territory, but really you should check this film out anyway. It is available on blu-ray and VOD right now. Be sure to leave it a review! Now get to listening!
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