J'Adore Violence at MAD Museum: An Interview with Programming Director Jake Yuzna

September 24, 2013 | By FRENCH CULTURE FILM

This fall, MAD Museum in New York City takes a look back on a recent moment in film history: the New French Extremity, a loosely connected group of French directors at the turn of the twenty-first century who sought to explore how the rise of violence and sexual transgression in film and television during the twentieth century had affected society as a whole.

We asked Jake Yuzna, director of public programming at Mad Museum, some questions about his up-coming series.


French Culture: What is New French Extremity for you ?

Jake Yuzna: For me, the New French Extremity was an important, vital moment in cinematic history.  It was when two seemingly separate groups within cinema, the so-called "art house" cinema and that of genre films, began to meet in earnest to tackle the issues of taboo in contemporary life.  It powerfully demonstrated the power of cinema to tackle what sex, death, and the love of watching violence meant for the human condition and society as a whole.  It also came at a time when French cinema saw a group of filmmakers embrace a more Hollywood approach to cinema.  Luc Besson being a great example of such a director.  This added to the dialogue in this movement around what constituted "French cinema" and what would become of French cinema in the decades to follow.

FC: Was the film selection hard to determine or did some movies emerge as obvious?

JY: It was very easy to program!  Luckily many people have written about the movement, and I was fortunate enough to include their selections.  I then added in other films to show historic precedent, like Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face).

FC: Does the New French Extremity have a counterpart in the US?

JY: We don't really. The US embraced sex, death, and violence much earlier on with our horror directors, but those films were much more political in nature.  Such as the work of John Carpenter, Abel Ferrara, and Wes Craven.  Those films made statements more than they opened up questions or encouraged reflection. The New French Extremity paved the way for subtly and gracefully tackling these topics and taboos, with a poetic and honest approach rather than pure shock value.


J’Adore Violence: Cinema of the New French Extremity at MAD Museum
Oct 11 - Dec 5, 2013
More information @ MAD Museum


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