Sidney Ramsey (BFA '21) in Saleemah E. Knight's class last year, USC Kaufman artist in residence Hope Boykin leading rehearsal last semester, USC Kaufman dancer Benjamin Peralta (BFA '22), "If the world was a bunch of people sitting in a room, and you raise your hand, then you better have something interesting to say," says our February cover star @rajafeatherkelly. (Monsecour: “We constantly collaborated together from day one.”). Dhont recently defended the film in The Guardian. “When I saw pictures of Victor, I thought to myself, ‘this is it, he is it.’ And I saw Victor as a human being.
Sign up for our Email Newsletters here. As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. I always tried to hide behind this mask of being the perfect girl. Described by director Lukas Dhont as his “active muse,” Nora Monsecour is the professional dancer whose life inspired the film, Girl. "I wanted to see the struggle she had to maintain her focus.
“I thought the world should see this, that it’s not just simply changing sex, that’s it more complex and more difficult than that.”. “And, importantly, it is all about physical manipulation.”. Later that year, in 2009, Monsecour left the school.
Particularly divisive was one of the film’s final scenes, in which Lara attempts to cut off her penis with a pair of scissors. Before she watched her life play out on screen, transgender dancer Nora Monsecour never felt she could truly connect with a character in a film. Monsecour responded to his essay, writing that "those criticizing Girl are preventing another trans story from being shared in the world, and are also attempting to silence me and my trans identity. "But he knew a lot of background of my story," she says. The message is to show that these things are a result of dark thoughts, [which] are the result of the struggle that we face.”. And they haven't solely been dancing. “I didn’t wanna sugar coat my own life … I was still very young, but I experienced a lot of dark thoughts. Worse still, the principal blamed Monsecour’s mother, saying she was giving her daughter medication because she’d always wanted a daughter over a son.
Monsecour wanted Polster to have the freedom to interpret the character in his own way. “I think the criticism around the film is necessary,” says Monsecour, who collaborated extensively with Dhont throughout casting and filming. When I was 11 or 12 in the studio, I had a leotard on like all the girls, but my body was that of a little boy. “For me, the only person that hurt me the most is myself, and not the people who bullied me,” she said. (As it happens, Netflix bought “Girl” out of Cannes. Monsecour, who is now a young adult, had a rather different experience in ballet. "Well it was so mechanical, so choreographed, and Victor is with his back to the camera.”.
“I was really offended, because people made out that Lukas [Dhont] made a film out of his cis perspective,” Monsecour told IndieWire in a recent phone interview. “But I think maybe the issue was that, when the film came out, it wasn’t clear that I was involved. So I was busy with, 'Is anyone going to see my body parts?
“Friends wouldn’t accept me in their bedrooms.” One of the film’s most powerful scenes has Lara’s classmates corner her into lifting up her dress. "You really find yourself in the aesthetic." "I fell in love with it completely," she says.
November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. In addition to attending dance rehearsals and being on set, Monsecour read each version of the script, sending edits to director and writer Lukas Dhont, who originally approached her about making the film after reading about her story. People are committing suicide because they cannot accept themselves.”, The idea that showing self-harm onscreen is “dangerous” is not a new one.
Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Because I didn’t feel ready to link my name to the film.”, She says the scene was based on personal experience. Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. A more seasoned filmmaker might have chosen to leave the ending more ambiguous, but Dhont, whose elegant and nuanced direction otherwise belies his youth, wanted to make a statement. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival. Whitney’s perspective is urgent and necessary; it was one largely left out from the critical conversation that accompanied the film’s celebrated Cannes Film Festival debut. Why ‘Mank’ and ‘Borat 2’ Are Serious Oscar Contenders in a Very Strange Year, ‘Soul’ Aims for Oscar Glory as Disney Shifts to Streaming, but Not All Films Deserve the Same Release, How Closed Theaters, Drive-In Movies, and Netflix Supremacy Are Shaping Oscar Season, Introducing ‘Deep Dive’: Damon Lindelof and His Team Go Behind the Scenes of ‘Watchmen’, ‘Succession’: How Editing Helps Every Dinner Scene Come to Life — Deep Dive, Becoming Hooded Justice: The ‘Watchmen’ Craft Team Analyzes the Emotional, Pivotal Scene – Deep Dive, 40 Must-See New Movies to See This Fall Season, The Fate of Movie Theaters Could Hinge on the Outcome of the Election, Zoe Lister-Jones Shook Up Hollywood with Her All-Female Crew, Now She’s Doing It with ‘The Craft: Legacy’. Ben Affleck’s bungled rescue operation: how Argo united Britain, Canada and Iran in anger, Shirley review: Elisabeth Moss's Gothic biopic is a gruelling muddle, The 75 best horror movies of all time for Hallowe’en. In Whitney’s view, the cinematography and direction is “invasive,” “voyeuristic,” and “leering.” Considering film’s history of fetishizing trans bodies, he is right to be alarmed. The greater her self-disgust, the harder she trains, pushing her body to gruesome extremes. In the film’s penultimate scene, she takes a bowl of ice and, with her back to the camera, cuts into her genitals. Dhont shows this by framing many shots on Lara’s body, including her groin, as she obsessively checks herself in the mirror. Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen review: did you know Audrey Hepburn danced for the Nazis? She and Dhont held an open casting-call for over 500 people, and were wary of casting a transitioning transgender actor who would be at a vulnerable time of their lives – a period they might regret having immortalised on screen. It's very strange when you recognize yourself so closely.". Everything you see is personal.” This focus also feels essential: Lara’s genitals are a betrayal of her identity.
It is that self-harm — quite graphic, arguably excessive — and the casting of a cisgender dancer in the role, that led trans critic Oliver Whitney to dub the film “a danger to the transgender community” in a recent essay. “There was always a fascination with what was between my legs,” says Monsecour. And if, at times, the lens becomes a voyeur, it’s a pointed reflection of a world that sees her as a curio. “All the scenes that focused on the body came directly from Nora,” he says. After seeing so many people love the film, now I should maybe love myself. “But I hope people can see it as a metaphor from the dark thoughts that I had, and that a lot of young people in my same situation also have.
And though Girl—which was released on Netflix today after being highly awarded at the Cannes Film Festival last year—isn't a biography, "the essence of the story is the same," says Monsecour. '”, [Editor’s note: Discussion below of the ending of “Girl,” as well as of self-harm.]. Nora Monsecour on Instagram: “Chante posti di amore fronto ame ”, Girl has opened doors for Monsecour, including the opportunity to write a book, which she's currently working on. "I want to raise my hand." Ed Frost spoke to Monsecour about the film, and her lifelong passion for dance. And though the film has one moment of bullying, overall, Lara is supported in her dream to be a ballet dancer. ", It's not that Girl sugarcoats Monsecour's life. Dhont’s debut feature film was met with a standing ovation at Cannes, won the festival’s Camera D’or, Best First Feature Film and Queer Palm awards, and picked up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film. The result was Girl, out now in cinemas, starring 27-year-old breakout actor Victor Polster, a student at the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp, as 15-year-old transgender ballerina Lara. … This anxiety of having this body in the way of pursuing my dreams was very much how my life was and how it is shown in ‘Girl. I didn’t see Victor as a male actor going to play a trans role. And Victor’s performance shows that you can channel the gender you are not, whenever you want.”, Both Dhont and Monsecour remain sanguine about the criticism. "When I was Lara's age, it was very hard and I had to fight against a lot of opposition." In fact, the film has been criticized by the trans community for its "disturbing fascination with trans bodies."
"It made me proud of my journey." 5,850 Followers, 704 Following, 222 Posts - See Instagram photos and videos from Nora Monsecour (@monsnora) ", The dance scenes do feel authentic, thanks in part to Monsecour's heavy involvement in the film. She was bullied, and had teachers who "didn't believe that transgender was something that existed in the world.
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