, Sponsored by Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Sponsored by USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, Girl: Netflix Film Stirs Controversy Over Who Owns Trans Stories ... ›, 'Girl': Trans Drama Impresses Cannes, but Will It Draw American ... ›, Netflix's Girl: Nora Monsecour responds to backlash from trans critics ... ›, Belgium Oscar Submission 'Girl' Is a "Message of Courage ... ›, Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival. 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. No, it’s also focusing on the girl that is a dancer, which is already a bodily experience,” she said. People are committing suicide because they cannot accept themselves.”, The idea that showing self-harm onscreen is “dangerous” is not a new one. Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. The greater her self-disgust, the harder she trains, pushing her body to gruesome extremes. Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox. “But I think maybe the issue was that, when the film came out, it wasn’t clear that I was involved. And this is a metaphor for suicide.” While the scene is gruesome and heavy to watch, Dhont says it was one of the easiest scenes to film. "We can really connect on that level," she says. Watching Girl for the first time was "liberating," says Monsecour. And we needed someone who could dance. So for me, this scene was crucial to show. She was bullied, and had teachers who "didn't believe that transgender was something that existed in the world. It was Belgium’s submission to the Oscars in the same category, but was recently left off the short list. For Monsecour, however, dance is an inherently physical pursuit, and there was no way to tell her story without focusing on Lara’s body. “But unlike in Hollywood, where it’s different because there are a lot of talented trans actors, and money and status get in the way, it was much harder for us. About categories and boxes. “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. One girl.”. “For me, the only person that hurt me the most is myself, and not the people who bullied me,” she said. There is a radicalism, and aggression, and extremism in the way we react to each other that I really don’t like.”. Trans critics called the film voyeuristic, exploitative and “trauma porn”. “Girl” is a work of fiction, but Monsecour asserts that it is an accurate depiction of her own lived experience. 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. 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. 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. “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. As the years went by, says Monsecour, it became like "working on something with a friend. (Dhont and his co-writer, Angelo Tijssens, are also both cis men. What started with a conversation 4 years ago now turned into a beautiful…”, Monsecour says that Polster, who is a student at Antwerp's Royal Ballet School, is now a close friend, who often asks her for advice on becoming a professional dancer. “I wanted them to understand that this wasn’t the portrait of a trans community,” says Dhont. Despite overwhelming support from her father, Lara struggles immensely with her body dysphoria, engaging in painful and harmful taping of her genitals before every dance class.
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. So I was constantly taping things away, I was constantly checking myself in the mirror. "I fell in love with it completely," she says. I really felt that he was the one person that could give this role life in a way that would pay respect to my story.”. W hen Nora Monsecour was 15 and training as a transgender ballerina in Belgium, she decided to join the womens’ pointe class. Roma director Alfonso Cuarón even came to watch it with his son, and Dhont and Monsecour were inundated with letters from trans viewers thanking them for making a film that made sense of their experiences. ", Another source of controversy: Lara is not played by a trans performer, but a cisgender male dancer, Victor Polster. "It made me proud of my journey." What’s on TV tonight: Don’t Rock the Boat, Deliveroo: Secrets of Your Takeaway, and more, How The Untouchables transformed Sean Connery's screen image, Life as a Bond girl: 'Of course Sean Connery tried to seduce me', Why Mick Jagger is cinema's greatest scene-stealer. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. Having taken puberty blockers at the age of 11, she was halfway through her female hormone replacements, with her sights set on gender reassignment surgery.
But her school wouldn’t let her. "I wanted to see the struggle she had to maintain her focus. Text Thomas Adam Curry In 2009, aged 18, student filmmaker Lukas Dhont happened across the story of Nora Monsecour while leafing through a Belgian newspaper. 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.
"I didn't see Victor as a male actor going to play a trans role," she told writer Jude Dry. Monsecour, who is now a young adult, had a rather different experience in ballet. Tributes paid to 'best Bond ever' as Sir Sean Connery dies aged 90, Beyond Bond: inside Sean Connery's wild, wigged-out post-007 career, James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery dies aged 90, ‘I'm fed up with the idiots’: why Sean Connery retired after The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, How Goldfinger's torture scene almost emasculated Sean Connery for real, The Last Crusade: how Sean Connery saved Indiana Jones from certain doom, Sexually transmitted horror: why It Follows is a modern Halloween masterpiece. "Well it was so mechanical, so choreographed, and Victor is with his back to the camera.”. In the film’s penultimate scene, she takes a bowl of ice and, with her back to the camera, cuts into her genitals. Monsecour, a young trans girl, wanted to become a ballerina but her school had refused to allow her to switch classes. 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. 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. 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. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. After Girl’s initial period of success, however, controversy began to take hold. Sign up for our Email Newsletters here. In another scene, Lara’s school teacher asks the class to raise their hands if they feel uncomfortable sharing a changing room with Lara. “Girl” is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. So I was busy with, 'Is anyone going to see my body parts? Visually, there is no direct image of the act, not even a drop of blood, just Lara crumpled on the floor, squealing in pain. I see gender as performative. "I want to raise my hand." The scene is distressingly long and uncomfortably naturalistic, and, according to Dhont, the trickiest scene to film. For me, it was very important that Lara … be played by someone who had a lot of love and empathy for the character, [and] was also a very good dancer,” she said. We find Lara, supported by her loving father Matthias (Arieh Worthalter), at the beginning of both the transitioning process and an unforgiving career in dance. From Psycho to Evil Dead: what is movie gore made from? Lara’s story is my story.”, The first feature from Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont, “Girl” nabbed the Queer Palm at Cannes, the Camera d’Or for Best First Feature, and an acting prize for its young star. 5,850 Followers, 704 Following, 222 Posts - See Instagram photos and videos from Nora Monsecour (@monsnora) She went on to study at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in England, and is currently in her first year as a company member with tanzmainz in Germany, dancing works by choreographers like Roy Assaf and Felix Berner.
“And anyway, cinema is [a] voyeur.
Issue was taken with Polster’s casting as a non-transgender actor, as well as the camera’s unwavering focus on Lara’s genitals, slammed as a “cisgender gaze”. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts. “There was always a fascination with what was between my legs,” says Monsecour. Dance Magazine went inside the making of the festival.
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