You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

10 Directors to Watch: Julia Ducournau Reveals ‘Raw’ Side of French Cinema

A rarity among French directors, Ducournau challenges the local industry with a debut that blends extreme horror with other genres.

Ducournau’s debut feature, “Raw,” is a shocker: Set in an oppressive veterinary school where a young vegetarian develops a taste for live flesh, the film is an escalating succession of stomach-churning twists, each one more creatively depraved than the last — from licking someone’s eyeball at a college party to the now-infamous finger scene. The film ignited strong reactions at Cannes, where it premiered in Critics’ Week, and was so upsetting to some in Toronto that there were reports of audience members passing out at midnight screenings.

Such projects are a rarity in France — a country whose critics put foreign genre directors on a pedestal, and yet whose state funding system prefers to greenlight more “personal” projects. “I don’t think auteur and genre should be separate. For me, an auteur is just someone who has a very strong personal vision, and who knows how to communicate it,” she says.

Even more challenging is finding support for “crossover” movies, as she refers to hybrids that blend humor, horror, and emotional elements. Lucky for Ducournau, her radical sensibility was encouraged at France’s La Fémis film school, where she enrolled as a screenwriting student. While there, “I realized there was a very logical continuity for me between writing and directing; it’s part of the same gesture.”

Both her Cannes-selected student short, “Junior,” and an early made-for-TV chiller called “Mange” (co-directed with Virgile Bramly) reflect a body-oriented obsession that reaches its apotheosis in “Raw.” “My parents are doctors, so I’m very used to some things other people find upsetting,” she says.

With “Raw,” Ducournau’s goal was to put audiences in the shoes of someone they would consider a monster, asking them to identify with a character they might otherwise dismiss as inhuman. “The thing about a cannibal, they are not supernatural, like vampires or werewolves; they are people. I always wonder, what is the difference between me and them? I think it’s very slim, and that by acknowledging the dark side, we can grow up and become more moral humans.”

Age: 33
Influences: David Cronenberg, Ben Wheatley, David Lynch
Agent: Valéry Guibal at Film Talents

More Film

  • UGC Distribution Closes on Mariano Cohn’s

    Ventana Sur: UGC Distribution Closes Market Hit ‘4 x 4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — UGC Distribution has beaten out all other suitors to clinch what had became by Friday morning the most anticipated deal of this year’s Ventana Sur market: All rights to France on Argentine Mariano Cohn’s “4 x 4,” sold by Latido Films and distributed throughout Argentina by Disney. After mounting speculation about which [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Hits $152 Million at International Box Office

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” has already grossed more than $150 million outside the U.S., Michael Masini joins “Birds of Prey,” and Freestyle buys the documentary “Shamanic Trekker.” BOX OFFICE Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” has taken in $152 million overseas in 36 markets, with $135 million of that from China, where it opened on [...]

  • 'Winter's Night' Review: Enigmatic, Offbeat Korean

    Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night'

    There are thousands of films about love’s beginning, and a great many about love’s end. But far fewer deal with a relationship’s late-middle: the spreading, sluggish delta of coupledom when decades of familiarity, if they have not bred contempt, at least threaten irritation. “Winter’s Night,” Jang Woo-jin’s playfully melancholic third feature, after the acclaimed “A [...]

  • Tomasz Kot UTA

    UTA Signs ‘Cold War’ Star Tomasz Kot (EXCLUSIVE)

    UTA has signed “Cold War” star Tomasz Kot. He has appeared in more than 30 films and 26 plays as well as dozens of television series. Most recently, Kot has received award-season buzz for his starring role as Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski’s feature “Cold War” for Amazon. The project has earned him a nomination for [...]

  • Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening

    Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival

    The 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh [...]

  • Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies

    Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies at 77

    Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77. The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max [...]

  • Most Popular Films 2018: The Best

    9 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired by This Year's Most Popular Films

    From superheroes to super nannies, 2018 was a year full of memorable characters — and memorable movies. Whether you’re a big film buff, an avid follower of a popular franchise, or have a couple movie fans in your life, here are nine gifts that capture the fun of some of this year’s biggest films. 1. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content