Filmmakers take on domestic violence

7th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 7, 2007 (AFP) - Using shock tactics or humour, 10 short films set for release in France raise a cry of alarm over the scourge of domestic violence, which killed 100 women in the country last year.

PARIS, March 7, 2007 (AFP) - Using shock tactics or humour, 10 short films set for release in France raise a cry of alarm over the scourge of domestic violence, which killed 100 women in the country last year.

In one of the films -- all shot on shoestring budgets and due to be screened in cinemas across France in the coming weeks -- the chilling voice of a forensic scientist reels off a victim's injuries during an autopsy.

"Multiple bruising, a fractured nose, broken glass in the eyes: the victim wore glasses. A smashed-in skull: she hit a piece of furniture. Skin abrasions: she was dragged to the bedroom. Nails ripped back -- she tried to cling onto anything she could."

Aimed at raising awareness of the brutal realities of domestic violence, a problem thrown into the spotlight by International Women's Day on March 8, each film ends by giving the number of a telephone hotline for victims.

Several films take an unflinching line -- one shows a woman dreaming that she ducks and avoids her husband's blows, before cutting to real-life where her bruised body is lying in bed next to his.

Another shows the drawings of a child from a violent home, his off-camera voice recalling that "Daddy punched mummy in the car" and concluding that "When people love each other, they beat each other."

In yet another, a human foetus appears to flinch in terror as his mother's heart rate quickens under the muffled blows of her partner.

But others use ridicule to tackle the problem. One shows a man slapping his wife for the trivial offence of forgetting to buy batteries for the television remote control.

Cut to a sequence showing a chimpanzee solving the problem: he gets up from the sofa to flick over the channel. "Even the great apes don't beat their females," runs the conclusion, delivered by a white-coated scientist.

Filmmaker Emmanuelle Millet says the project was a response to the death in 2003 of French actress Marie Trintignant, whose partner at the time, the French rockstar Bertrand Cantat, was jailed for eight years for causing her death.

She says Trintignant's death opened her eyes to the extent of violence against women in France.

French government figures showed that 94 women were killed by their partners in France in 2006, despite the recent introduction of tougher penalties for domestic abusers.

Almost half of the time, the women's deaths were linked to a break-up in their couple, and in more than half of cases the partner was unemployed. Alcohol abuse was cited as a factor in a quarter of all murders.

"These films are here to make sure our granddaughters never have to put up with violence," said Millet, who was joined by filmmakers Zabou Breitman, Coline Serreau, Patrice Leconte, Brigitte Rouan, Lorraine Levy, Paul and Michel Boujenah, Paolo Trotta and Bruno Podalydes.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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