Black Venus Background

Black Venus Background

Sarah Baartman was a Khoekhoe woman, descending from the indigenous nomadic people of southwestern Africa. She was known as the Hottentot Venus, and in the early part of the nineteenth century was put on display throughout Europe, much like other end-of-the-pier freakshow performers such as the Elephant Man and the bearded lady. Venus Noire is a French movie based on Baartman's life, and was directed by Tunisian-Arabic-French director Abdellatif Kechiche. The film was given the Equal Opportunity Award at the 67th Venice International Film Festival where it was also nominated for the Golden Lion.

Although technically free, Baartman was also enslaved to her master, Caezar, whose brainchild it had been to put her in a cage and charge an admission fee to look at her. People marveled at her appearance, and Baartman became a working class icon, but was ultimately cast aside by those who had used her to make their own fortune.

The film received universal critical acclaim, although the production was not without its difficulties. Although admired for his directorial talent, Kechiche had been classed as erratic and difficult to work with from the start of his film career, and actresses in particular began to speak out about his not being particularly pleasant to work with. In 2018 he was accused of sexual misconduct by a young actress. The case is still under investigation.

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