Between Couscous, winner of three César Awards, and the Cannes triumph of Blue Is the Warmest Colour, Abdellatif Kechiche made Black Venus, a stark portrait of the life of Saartjie Baartman, also known as the ‘Hottentot Venus’.
Baartman was taken from South African home as a 21-year-old and shipped to Georgian London, where she would be caged and exhibited as a freak show. Presented semi-nude, her physique – especially her large buttocks – was the source of much curiosity. But as her ‘fame’ spread, so too did her exploitation…
Centred on a remarkable performance by Cuban actor Yahima Torres as Baartman, Black Venus provides a bleak but barbed exploration of sex, science, race, colonialism and social attitudes.
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