AMPAS ’16: Catherine Breillat

AMPAS ADDS WOMEN DIRECTORS: With our commitment to reviewing all new releases written and/or directed by women, FF2 Media now plays an important role in breaking down barriers. AMPAS invited 683 new members this year, 49 of whom are female directors. Who are they? What are their stories? We already know them, and we are here to tell you!


Catherine Breillat is a French filmmaker known for her controversial films with sexual themes, most notably her 1976 debut film, A Real Young Girl. She had her first novel published at the age of 17, l’Homme facile (Easy Man), which inspired the feature film.

In 2004, Breillat suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, causing a stroke that paralyzed her left side. After five months of hospitalization and a slow rehabilitation, she gradually returned to work, producing Une vieille maîtresse (The Last Mistress) in 2007 – one of three French films officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival of that year.

In 2007, Breillat met notorious conman Christophe Rocancourt, and offered him a leading role in a movie that she was planning to make, based on her own novel Bad Love, and starring Naomi Campbell. Over the next year and a half, would give him loans for a screenplay and alleged that Rocancourt had taken advantage of her diminished mental capacity, as she was still recovering from her stroke.The book is titled Abus de faiblesse, a French legal term usually translated as “abuse of weakness”. In 2012, Rocancourt was convicted of abus de faiblesse for taking Breillat’s money, and sentenced to prison.

An excerpt from FF2 Media’s review of Abuse of Weakness from August 22, 2014:

French novelist and filmmaker Catherine Breillat, best known for Sex is Comedy, Fat Girl, and The Last Mistress, uses her familiar, transgressive style in her new film Abuse of Weakness. Breillat has always walked the line of violence, gore, and explicit understanding of female sexuality.

Abuse of Weakness is not a documentary but a narrative drama of examination of power, money, sex and codependency. With respect to her stroke, the truest part of the film is likely that her stroke gave her a sense of mortality, stressing the intensity of time. You understand that her time is limited and that she may not have another chance to say what she wants to say, so she really goes for broke in this film. The more I think about it, it’s really the best one she’s ever done.

Read the full review:

Read more about Catherine Breillat:

Top Photo: Isabelle Huppert as “Maud” in Abuse of Weakness.

Photo Credit: Strand Releasing

Tags: A Real Young Girl, Abuse of Weakness, Catherine Breillat, Christophe Rocancourt, Fat Girl, FF2 Media, Sex is Comedy, The Last Mistress

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