ANATOMY OF HELL
11BIS RUE MAGELLAN
TEL 01 47 23 00 02
FAX 01 47 23 00 01
AMIRA CASAR ROCCO SIFFREDI
ANATOMY OF HELL
A FILM BY CATHERINE BREILLAT
PRODUCED BY JEAN-FRANÇOIS LEPETIT - FLACH FILMS - CB FILMS
WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF CANAL + AND LE CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA CINÉMATOGRAPHIE
NATIONAL RELEASE JANUARY 28 2004
RUNNING TIME 87'
Visa n°106 655 ● Format 1.85 ● Dolby SR ● Color ● int - 16 ans
29 RUE DU FBG POISSONNIERE
TEL 01 42 46 96 10
FAX 01 42 46 96 11
ANATOMY OF HELL
In places where people rub shoulders and never meet, where techno drives physical
urge, they dance, sway and blend in a primeval hydra of male bodies.
In their sudden, shared desire, it's just men, with no need of anyone else.
She is the Girl, breathtakingly beautiful and totally overlooked.
In a toilet stall, she cuts her wrists with a razor blade.
Two thin, parallel lines that converge in blood.
That's how they meet.
He doesn't like women. She will pay him to watch, she says.
- Where I'm unwatchable.
- It'll cost you a lot.
- 'll pay you.
Four nights. In a house in the middle of nowhere, perched on a cliff,
the front steps topped by four pillars.
Four nights of confrontation, her against him.
For the obscenity of women takes shape in men's eyes.
Four nights to confront the unspeakable, to explore what can't be
shown: that which is secret.
As in the Hebrew of the Book of Genesis in which "secret" is the same
word as "nudity", literally "that which must not be seen".
When physical nudity penetrates the nudity of the soul, it reveals awareness.
The intimate is the ultimate forbidden, that leaves you lost for
Initiatory taboo versus religious taboo
The film could only ever take place behind closed doors. Within four walls,
you can't escape the essential. The woman is confined to the bed and all will
be revealed. This film is like Pythagoras' theory of obscenity. Truth is persecuted
by religious obscurantism. Religion, as it is conceived, posits us as
sinners for wanting to know. So, it is a film about knowledge. On what was
this terror founded?
Sexuality is something that transcends us and the transcendence is not quite
normal. Between the taboo that means "shame" and the taboo that means
"initiation", between the unnamable, thus the unwatchable, and the unnamed,
there is a huge difference and my film is positioned there. There is the
sacred on the one hand and the ignominious on the other. Ever since Romance, I
have navigated between them trying to find out what it is that is being hidden from
us and the reasons why women are relegated into the ignominious rather than the
Sexuality reaches for the summits since climax is a language whereas pleasure is
a form of consumerism. Climax -- being above one's body -- is akin to speech as
if there were an abstraction from the body that enabled us to exist through a feeling
of eternity. Attaining this presents an obvious challenge to the power of religion.
We live in a post-religious society which has analyzed nothing, nor even opened
the founding texts to try to understand where religion derives its venerability and
respectability. People always say we must respect religion but we don't know it. In
that case, I could say I respect the Holocaust, stoning, etc, on the basis that it is
There are, every time, only two possibilities. Either we talk about it, try to understand,
and abolish, or we respect and live in absolute denial of all our humanist
positions. It's Schizophrenia.
I prefer to understand. Of course, it's not easy. It's a two-headed hydra within us
that we must resolve.
For example, in ancient Hebrew, "nudity" is the same word as "secret". It is possible
to interpret this in a beautiful way for a secret can be a magnificent thing.
Unfortunately, it is also possible to interpret it in a horrible way.
The Gospels are magnificent but as soon as we get to St. Paul, women are relegated
to monstrous servitude. How can we swear on that, for example, in the
name of democracy? The film dismantles the denials on which we live because of
NOTES ON THE FILM BY CATHERINE BREILLAT
a society that hems us in and prevents us from being what we are. Society provides
for us to live comfortably but never profoundly, at the heart of what we are.
Which is why I am totally Socratic, i.e. "know thyself". It's fundamental. In saying,
"I think therefore I am," it's my subconscious talking and I want to know it to draw
from its well whenever I desire.
"The man who doesn't love women"?
I think that we can consider the nightclub at the beginning of the film as an
allegory for humanity (not just of gays).
Men occupy the surface of the planet and the woman is the odd one out. Since
there are only men in the world, they value and love each other. They don't need
to love women. Confronted with that, the woman cannot exist with her human
dignity intact: since she grew out of Adam's rib, she is conceived in his servitude,
say the books.
I think that if woman is defined by her sex, it is through sex, unhindered by its
reproductive function and by the social denial of humanity, that she can build her
Refusing to see sex as a means of access to abstract thought and reducing it to a
simple object of derision, totally shameful and devoid of its aura, is, in my eyes, a
denial of humanity. My film rises up against that.
The Christlike blood of women
The Tampax scene comes from the Old Testament. Religion deals with the question
of women's periods. I read the Old testament when we were mixing the movie
and I came across a page where it was written word for word. I had taken it literally,
unwittingly, because we are impregnated with it, while drawing the opposite
conclusion to that of the impurity and servitude of women. If people say to me that
you can't show that, then I'll point them to the page in the Good Book. The Old
Testament is a fine book from a literary and artistic point of view, but making a religion
out of it is barbaric.
To be precise, female menstruation is also the subject of Sura 2 (The Cow), verse
222. It is dismissed in lapidary manner: "It is an evil."
At the time, people had no idea of the cycle of fertility. That of animals was
Human fertility is more enigmatic.
For me, that is a good thing.
It has been turned into something evil.
The Christ I film is not the one you find in church. It's the real Christ, bleeding on
his cross. The woman herself becomes Christlike. She is pinned to the bed under
the man's gaze, which could be the gaze of the Pharisee. She is in a state of both
sanctification and sacrifice. There is something sacrificial because she is destined
The close-ups there, where the woman is unwatchable
They were shot with a body-double on the last day of shooting. I have to say that
the shoot took place in a state of grace that settled over the set at the precise
moment that I was preparing the lighting and framing of each shot. Before, we
were all very afraid. It was a fear we had to fight shot after shot. This state of grace
materialized only on set. The next shot is always an unknown. It follows on from
the previous one and it all becomes simple. The whole crew felt this kind of blend
of bliss and terror. The film haunted everybody.
These close-ups produce stupor proportionate to the dread that the man feels
before that which is unwatchable, this denied part of the woman. I wanted to show
what is increasingly hidden or eliminated, by which I mean the pubis, hairs under
the arms, etc. Corbet's The Origin of the World is, as it happens, a painting I am
obsessed with. It is equally important pictorially as philosophically. It opens people
to moral foundation. Man Ray's photos of women show them with their body hair,
Pasolini's women likewise.
It is the female isosceles triangle. Nowadays, the triangle has disappeared.
In porn movies, the trend is for there to be no hair whatsoever. It's not natural anymore.
That reminds me of an anecdote. I had a stepmother who was brought up
in the highest strata of high society. As a child, she was waited on hand and foot
by butlers and chefs. She often ate artichoke hearts in a very sophisticated sauce.
Later, she married and lived a much simpler life. One day, she was served artichokes
au naturel and she panicked at the sight of the "hairs". She had no idea
what to do with them.
Nowadays, by constantly removing these hairs, we're turning something that is
perfectly natural into an abomination. If we pile this abomination on top of a physiological
reality that hits us with puberty, then our very nature becomes abominable
and we can only conceive of ourselves in shame.
Archaism and origin
We have to come back to what is. When he shot eXistenZ, Cronenberg took his
inspiration from the fatwa against Rushdie and he created these dreadful organic
objects so that we would change our aesthetic codes. Unforgiving morality is
always based on these aesthetic codes that we readily consider a Truth.
Because we are very sensitive to fashion and it impregnates us with its laws.
Yet, we know that nothing fluctuates more than fashion.
And morality cannot be based on fashion. That's what I think.
As soon as you decide to hide part of a woman's body, that part inevitably
And now we have two female high school students wearing hijab and telling us
about the obscenity of their ears: can't you see that this is far more terrifying than
accepting our bodies as they are? After all, there are only two sexes. It's hardly a
The origin of cinema
I wanted to rediscover some of the emotion of silent movies with, in particular, the
incandescence of the light on the bodies that enables them to stand out against
light and dark backgrounds, to the point where they become almost ethereal. For
me, light is the soul. It was fundamental that for this film, which is rooted in our origins,
the lighting could reveal something primitive. For example, when the man
stares at his finger moistened by the woman's sex, I wanted a kind of fantasy picture
effect, the image of the first man discovering something unthinkable, a bit like
King Kong, who deep down is the first man. I'm talking about the original King
Kong, of course, in black & white, which is so much more poetic and archaic.
When King Kong looks at this tiny blonde in his palm, he whose world view
revolves around power and brute force, who has no conception of love, who just
has to close his hand to crush his beautiful captive, suddenly has a flicker of emotion.
The seeds of the weakness that will cause his downfall are sown. I often
thought about that during the shoot.
I wrote the movie for Rocco. The character was for him. And I have to say that he
plays it body and soul, right down to the deepest distress. He uses no artifice and
always tries to find the literal state of what was written. In the scene where he
bursts into tears on the bed, he let the emotion of the moment swallow him up
completely. It was incredible.
As for Amira, she possesses real elegance, the grace of models transcended by
artists. I thought her body was just perfect to film her as an odalisque, like in a
Caravaggio painting. She also has a slightly Byzantine face, that resembles
Christ's with an arched forehead and eyebrows like crow's wings.
The male first person
This movie is my first where I wanted to identify with the man, as I did in my early
novels, such as L'homme facile. I shot and edited the movie trying to get into his
skin. Sure, the voice emanating from the woman is that of destiny but, as I'm a bit
schizo, let's say that I am the man discovering the woman who is me. That's probably
why the character is homosexual. A man who doesn't love women, deep
down, is closer to me, even if Rocco is an exception.
The initiatory nature of the movie
Rocco is original man, emerging from the mammals. His male dignity lies in being
the strongest. Suddenly, he encounters not the female but woman. This woman,
who through desire no longer responds to the laws of the species, endows him
with emotions. He can't help but approach her and in so doing he loses his strength.
But at the same time he gains feeling. And humanity, therefore. He gains by
existing in the abstract rather than just in muscle. But as he is the last animal, at
the point of becoming human, he is scared. Because he loves and senses his
weakness, he kills the woman who sapped his strength. In the café, he tells his
story, he recounts his weakness. And this weakness is him becoming human, finding
words. Then, he returns to the scene without thinking he has killed her. When
he gets there, the house is empty but for nightmares and dreams. It no longer
belongs to the reality of what happened to him. It appears now at the end of the
initiatory rite of he who has become a man. The initiation has taken place.
Obviously, he is horrified to have killed her but he needs to be aware of it to know
that from now on he can accept feelings and weakness.
I have always been for power without power. We have power over ourselves. If we
wield it over others, it's tyranny. Having it gives you stature but you mustn't use it.
Suddenly, the man in my film has the power of knowledge. He abandons brute
force and that makes him grow in stature. I think that it shows genuine love of men
to want to tell that story. I won't let anybody tell me the opposite…
In the beginning, the book
I needed to immerse myself in words. You can't make a movie as primary as this
without dealing with the words. Generally, subjects this fundamental are very slim
in plot, so you have to explore language to bring out the subconscious. There is no
dramatic dynamic within the movie. There is just a mythical dynamic. That is why it
was vital to ground it in a literary way, or to be more exact in a subconscious way.
When I wrote the screenplay, I went through a kind of cut-and-paste process using
my book, Pornocracy, dreaming up voiceovers that related whole passages of text.
It was this voiceover that was my inspiration on set for each shot and its content.
And then, of course, it virtually disappeared. But for me it was a necessary part of
the process. Not just putting: "she spreads her legs and he sees…".
I needed a poetic, almost metaphysical language.
The obscene imperative
I was very afraid when I wrote the screenplay, much more than for the book. I knew
that filming the forbidden was another matter. Unforgivable almost.
But I was determined to make this movie at all costs. I knew it would be the last
on this subject. It closes a cycle. I couldn't dodge it.
I strongly believe that as an Artist there is a "Pornographic Imperative": I think that
the question of the obscenity and fundamentalism of the way people see women is
an essential problem for human civilization.
But it isn't taken into account in politics and the law courts because it is a key issue
in religious power and taboo. Consequently, the words "obscenity", "pornography"
and "human dignity" linked to a woman's body and its (dis)play stifle any possible
argument. Since philosophers are not prepared to argue this case, it is up to filmmakers
and artists to find something that preceded fundamentalism.
It's very difficult because it means rewinding our subconscious almost 3,000 years.
The territory of obscenity, which is said not to be visible, is the territory of artists.
It is up to artists to make it visible. Instead of believing what we are always being
told, in order to stop us thinking. We have to fight for our right to think and to consider
perfectly watchable that which is said to be unwatchable. That's the point of
the woman's contract in the movie: "watching me where I'm unwatchable". She
doesn't specify where this is, even if we know that it includes her sex. So why isn't
it watchable? Because it is vile or because it is initiatory? Society tends to tell us
that it is vile, monstrous and loathsome. That's what makes us dread it so much. I
am puritanical and this film scared me too. I really have to express my thanks to
Amira Casar for taking it on because it required astounding courage.
When, for example, you see these two young girls wearing hijab and explaining
that even one's ears can be indecent and nobody contradicts them, it's terrifying.
For me, that is much less acceptable than overcoming the taboo of obscenity. Like
it or not, that is the real issue facing civilization.
Are women loathsome?
I think that Godard, in Une Femme est une Femme, found a very prophetic
A difference between men and women?
I don't feel in any way different from men, artistically and intellectually. As an artist
I am not sexual. I am an artist, period.
There is an imperative therefore to see how men and women confront each other.
They are man and woman, not because of their awareness, nor their human dignity,
nor their intelligence, but because they come from mammals and then they no
longer see themselves as man and woman but as male and female.
And with mammals, it's about the survival of the fittest, and thus of the male. It's
just that human sexuality is very specific to our species. I bracket it with language,
the Rubicon that animals will never cross.
Emotion, ecstasy, eternity, the sense of abstraction all involve sex once it is no longer
simply a means of animal reproduction and contingency.
It is clear that in evolving we escape that. But the churches oppose this evolution
because transcendence, artistry and knowledge conflict with the image of "the sinner
who expiates for eternity his error in wishing to attain that."
And at that moment, they lose Heaven on Earth and they realize that they are
Naked: you can see that there is a relationship between elevation, art and awareness
of NUDITY as a mark of infamy and a tool of enslavement.
Hell on earth
Hell is living in a world where they want to blindfold you to stifle your awareness.
This movie is against fundamentalism of all kinds, which draws strength in denial.
Of course, it will be greeted by a wall of hate, proportionate to this hell on earth
that has been created for women.
Yet the censors won't know where to stand or what to say.
For the film is an investigation of censorship, of our fantastical or genuine terror.
I don't fear censorship.
I fear hatred, which is the gut response to a film like this.
Interview by David Vasse,
author of Catherine Breillat, un cinema de la transgression which
will be published early 2004 by Arte Editions/Editions Complexe.
L’HOMME FACILE / Christian Bourgois Editeur et 10/18
Réédition J’ai Lu 2001
LE SILENCE, APRES … / François Wimille Editeur
LES VETEMENTS DE MER (theater) / François Wimille Editeur
LE SOUPIRAIL / Guy Authier Editeur
TAPAGE NOCTURNE / Mercure de France
POLICE / Albin Michel et le Livre de Poche
36 FILLETTE / Carrère
LE LIVRE DU PLAISIR / Editions N°1
ROMANCE / Les Cahiers du Cinéma
A MA SŒUR ! / Les Cahiers du Cinéma
UNE VRAIE JEUNE FILLE / Editions Denoël
PORNOCRATIE / Editions Denoël
CATHERINE & Co... de Michel Boisrond
BILITIS de David Hamilton
LA PEAU (co-writer) de Liliana Cavanni
L’ARAIGNEE DE SATIN (co-writer) de Jacques Baratier
E LA NAVE VA (co-writer) de Federico Fellini
POLICE de Maurice Pialat
ZANZIBAR (co-writer) de Christine Pascal
MILAN NOIR (co-writer) de Rony Chamah
LA NUIT DE L’OCEAN (co-writer) de Antoine Perset
AVENTURE DE CATHERINE C. (co-writer) de Pierre Beuchot
LA THUNE de Philippe Galland
DEVIL IN THE FLESH (téléfilm) de Gérard Vergez
VIENS JOUER DANS LA COUR DES GRANDS
de Caroline Huppert
SELON MATHIEU (co-writer) de Xavier Beauvois
UNE VRAIE JEUNE FILLE
SALE COMME UN ANGE
A PROPOS DE NICE, LA SUITE (AUX NIÇOIS QUI MAL Y PENSENT)
PARFAIT AMOUR !
A MA SŒUR !
Best Film (Gold Hugo) and Best Actress awards Chicago Festival 2001
Tribute Telluride Festival 2001
Movie Zone Award Rotterdam 2002
First Prize Luchon Festival 2002
Best Actress award Geneva 2001
SEX IS COMEDY
Opening film Director's Fortnight Cannes 2002
ANATOMY OF HELL
How did you get involved with this project?
I have always appreciated Catherine Breillat's universe. Her ideas always strike a
chord within me. She displays a kind of mythical and mystical poetry that I find very
touching. When she gave me the script to read, I found one line particularly striking,
when my character says: "I want to be watched where I'm unwatchable." Those few
words were enough to get my imagination moving.
My career and my classical training made me receptive to great writing and here
you find lines that are rich in meaning and power. You sense a link to Marguerite
Duras' La Maladie de la Mort. I detected a metaphorical link to Greek tragedy.
I immediately compared my character to that of Ariadne and her rapture, in every
sense of the word. That's where I found my sub-text, the key to my character.
Rocco was Dionysus, who has come to ravish this girl abandoned by Theseus.
Some will see him as Theseus, others as Bacchus. Personally, I preferred a god to
a Peloponnesian playboy!
Catherine Breillat has a singular way of filming actresses. She magnifies them, sublimates
them. When we met for the first time, there was a kind of connection between
her world and my imagination. Even though the subject matter is so strong
and dealt with so uncompromisingly, I was captivated by her artistic ambition. She
has extremely powerful vision. This film is in some ways a kind of anthology of her
universe. That inspired me.
Working with her was an experience in itself?
I have made many varied movies. In 2003 particularly, I switched between
genres. I arrived on the set of Anatomy of Hell having just completed Christine
Jeffs' Sylvia, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, which is the story of Sylvia Plath's life
with Ted Hughes. Heading off into Breillat's world necessarily was a break with
what I had done. But I had great trust in her and was ready to throw myself into
it within the limits I had already laid down.
I agreed to everything, except live sex. I had a body double for that and the limits
of my performance are specified at the beginning of the movie.
Once that was settled, I could allow the camera as close to me as possible in the
interests of the story and the fable dimension. The man and woman have no
names, they are emblematic of an encounter. To emphasize her approach,
Catherine uses symbols and metaphors like in tragedy or in a fable. She does it
with unyielding honesty and the desire to destroy all pretence. Her method
AN INTERVIEW WITH AMIRA CASAR, The Girl
means she avoids vulgarity. Catherine often says that there is obscurantism in
our puritan world. Her avant-garde approach is in reaction to that. She displays
Despite the distance between you and the character, your commitment was
My character evolves in a dimension that goes beyond anecdotal. The
symbolism is very strong. I embody the female sex and its questions and
doubts. Through this ritual, the Girl completes a journey. Each night is a
different stage. To build the character I used the Ariadne subtext but I
also found inspiration in something else.
For some time now, I have been interested in Dora Maar and Picasso and,
having seen various exhibitions, amidst the fabulous wealth of work, I
found my personal thread in a sketch torn out of a notebook and colored
in wax crayons: Dora and the Minotaur.
Facing this half-man, half-beast, Dora recoils, and in her eyes you can
detect both total abandonment and refusal to submit, which makes her
the mistress of her actions. Her black hair and pointed, red nails are instantly
recognizable. I wanted exactly the same nails for my character.
Sometimes, an image says more than any words can. It's a double-edged
struggle that I saw as part of the movie. Some people will think that the
Girl is mistreated and won't understand the film's feminist argument. In
order to liberate her heroine, Catherine has her engage in a process of
self-debasement that she alone controls. She chooses the man, she pays
If it is a rite of initiation, where does it lead?
Liberty. For me, the film deals with the sacred and the profane. Catherine flits between
these two notions, exposing the frontier between them. My character liberates
herself in going towards a mythical death that transcends her existence. She
is like an animal that knows it is going to be sacrificed. From the very beginning, she
senses she is going to die. She gives herself up to this destiny that she will fulfill in
four days and nights. From the opening shots, the notion of sacrifice is present. It's
one of the strongest aspects of the movie, the opposition between the person sacrificing
and the person being sacrificed.
How did you work with Rocco?
We come from very different worlds but in this movie Rocco is an actor, not a porn
actor. He respected my limits and was very respectful towards me.
How did Catherine direct you?
Catherine is not concerned with an actor's pat psychology. I was often moved by
her, carrying her burden come hell or high water, arriving on the set in the morning
and finding herself in the same emotive state as the actor because she is in the
same labyrinth and feels the same nervousness.
She becomes a real scene partner. The actors are an extension of herself, of her
imagination and of what she is trying to say. We are the raw material that she molds.
She is uncompromising in terms of her work. She doesn't censor herself and,
through her intelligence, she leads you into her way of thinking. With Catherine, you
walk hand in hand in the dark. The wealth of her culture relies on a shared experience,
a handing down, and that inspired me enormously. I always hope for emotion.
When I buy into a filmmaker's vision, I can push myself very far, although I think
I'll only do a project like this once in my life. Catherine was aware of my reservations,
my protestant upbringing and my self-discipline, which she appreciated. I
gave myself over to her voluntarily, as a woman in charge of her destiny, a woman
who shares her way of thinking.
The dialogue is very literary in a tragic register.
It is beautifully written. It was important to avoid theatricality. The scansion is complicated,
the sentences are long, discontinuous sometimes, always meaningful and,
from a syntactic point of view, heavy for an actor. It is all very fragile.
There is a whole world between the original screenplay and what appears on
Every day, an image needs to be created and that's not easy. The whole crew has
to engage in a creative process that can be brutal, demanding and conflictual in
terms of oneself and one's doubts, in order to achieve the harmony that gives birth
to that image. Starting from a void to form an image and a conception is totally abstract.
To my mind, Catherine's work can easily be compared to that of a painter.
Was this role a challenge you set yourself? Did you learn something about yourself?
An enormous amount. I think I came out of this experience both highly vulnerable
and extremely strong. Being a committed actor, who invests deeply in a part,
requires huge energy. Being naked on set is not easy. Personally, I don't like it. And
at the same time, I felt extremely protected by the second skin constituted by the
make-up and lighting. All that contributes to the sublimated dimension of the movie.
How does Catherine talk you through a scene?
We don't work on the scenes together. They come out of the moment on set. You're
on the razor's edge. You have to know your lines perfectly because Catherine is
capable of altering any single element of the context. She works instinctively. It's
what happens at any given moment that counts, not what was planned or set down
on a storyboard.
It's not improvisation either because she doesn't like that but it's a process that's
very alive, instantaneous, which, without changing the lines, can alter their direction.
As an actor, you are constantly being molded. Catherine has an incredible way of
directing actors and her method is both extremely strict and vulnerable.
The director is there to manipulate the actress. If the idea of being manipulated is
upsetting, it's because there is no trust. If I hadn't accepted it, I would have been
out of place. Anatomy of Hell may shock those who don't buy into what it is saying.
This movie wasn't for just any actress and quite a few of them would have been
constantly having second thoughts. As for me, I see Catherine as an avant-gardist
and I don't want to clip her wings. I allowed her to construct her vision. When you
work with someone like Catherine, if you understand what she has to say -- not
intellectually but deep within -- it can be so elevating..
What will be your strongest memory of this experience?
Things aren't set in stone. This is neither my first nor my last movie but it is an
important stage in my life as an actress. It counts a lot to me because I gave a lot
I am glad to have met Catherine. She is everything and its opposite. Both brazen
and shy, brutal and extremely gentle. I like those paradoxes within her. I like giving
myself up to her vision because I know it sublimates the actress and the woman.
Some people won't agree but that's how I feel. For me, she is the heir to Pasolini.
If this film shocks people, it will be in the same way that Salo did because, with its
own distinct ideas, it is in that tradition.
Even if my protestant upbringing taught me a sort of stoicism, Catherine has added
something essential to my life: detachment.
1989 ERREUR DE JEUNESSE by Radovan Tadic
1991 LE SILENCE DE L'ETE (short) by Véronique Aubouy
1994 DEPART IMMEDIAT (short) by Thomas Briat
SORTIE DE LYCEE (short) by Caroline Champetier
AINSI SOIENT-ELLES by Patrick Alessandrin
1995 SHARPE'S SIEGE by Tony Clegg
LIMITED EDITION by Bernard Rapp
1996 WOULD I LIE TO YOU? by Thomas Gilou
César nomination for Best Newcomer 1998
Trophée du Film Français 1998
MARIE BAIE DES ANGES by Manuel Pradal
MIRADA LIQUIDA by Rafael Moleon
1998 WHY NOT ME? by Stéphane Giusti
SOONER OR LATER by Anne-Marie Etienne
FROM BEHIND by Valérie Lemercier
LE COEUR A L'OUVRAGE Laurent Dussaux
2000 ONCE WE GROW UP by Renaud Cohen
WOULD I LIE TO YOU? 2 by Thomas Gilou
HOW I KILLED MY FATHER by Anne Fontaine
BUNUEL AND KING SOLOMON'S TABLE by Carlos Saura
2001 NOURRIR LA LUNE by Jacques Baratier
HYPNOTIZED AND HYSTERICAL by Claude Duty
RENEE by Catherine Corsini
2002 UNDER ANOTHER SKY by gaël morel
2003 MARIÉE MAIS PAS TROP by Catherine Corsini
SYLVIA by Christine Jeffs
ANATOMY OF HELL by Catherine Breillat
1996 BEETHOVEN, UN AMOUR INACHEVE by Fabrice Cazeneuve
2001 MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS U.S.A./ Grande-Bretagne
2002 LES CHEMINS DE L'OUED by Gaël Morel
FORTY by David More pour Channel 4
2003 LES THIBAULT by Jean Daniel Verhagues
1999 AUNT DAN AND LEMON by Wallace Shawn - directed
by Tom Kairn, with Miranda Richardson, Glen Hedly - Almeida
HEDDA GABLER by Henrik Ibsen - directed by Raymond
Aquaviva, with Jean-Claude Dauphin - Petit Théâtre de Paris
When did Catherine Breillat first mention this project to you?
For at least ten years, she has wanted to make a movie with me. We talked over
several ideas and then there was Romance. Before that, she didn't know me, she
had only seen me in porn movies. So, she had no idea what I would be like in a real
part. I think she was happy with it because she offered me another.
She wanted to adapt her book, Pornocracy, but she also wanted to write a film with
me as the lead. It took a number of years for the project to take shape before I got
to read the script.
What did you think of it?
As ever with Catherine, it's full-on. She doesn't play with feelings, she tries to tame
them. Personally, there was one thing that posed a problem. I know Catherine hates
pretence. You have to be totally committed as an actor in her movies, but the script
contained a gay scene and, even though I'm not a homophobe, I won't go that far.
Seeing as she really wanted to do the movie with me, she found a compromise. I
suggested that we could get across the character's homosexuality by a kiss in the
nightclub. Even that wasn't easy. It's fairly intimate!
What attracted you to the project?
For me, as an actor and as a man, this film was a challenge. The script was complex
and the dialogue was so demanding I didn't think I would be able to speak the
lines. After all, French is not my first language. But Catherine had faith in me and
that motivated me. I have always enjoyed playing a part, even in adult movies. Even
with a terrible director, I try to be credible and act properly. In Romance, I only had
a minor role but I got a glimpse of how difficult acting can be.
This time, I was being given a chance to leave behind Rocco Siffredi and act a totally
different character. Making mainstream movies as opposed to porn made me sit
and think about where I was going. I had to ask myself some tough questions. I was
confronted with my own limitations, but in spite of that each experience has made
me want to come back for more. With Anatomy of Hell, I had the chance to go even
AN INTERVIEW WITH ROCCO SIFFREDI, The Man
On set, did you have an overall vision of the movie?
My perception of the movie came as we were making it. Beforehand, with just the
screenplay, I had no real handle on it. There was the meaning of the dialogue and
the strength of the situations. When I didn't know, I put my trust in Catherine. I was
scared she wouldn't like how I played the character but, according to her, I immediately
took the right approach to him.
Do you recall the first scene you shot?
It was one of the most difficult for me, when I arrive at the Girl's house for the first
time. I had a lot of text, a lot of business. I was immediately confronted by what had
intimidated me. I had built my character as best I could, far from what I was familiar
with. I was riddled with doubt. Catherine reassured me. That's when I became
aware of the commitment the part required. I couldn't do a take and go off to make
a few phone calls. I had to be totally there the whole time. Even though I often felt
quite lonely, I never forgot how lucky I was to be there playing that part. As I often
have in my career, I made sure I faced up.
For the first time in my life, I was able to slip into a character that wasn't me and
enjoy it. Acting is a fascinating business. I got into porn movies for reasons of physical
attraction but this was something else. Acting really is something else.
What's it like working with Catherine Breillat?
It's Ivy League. She is a great director of actors. She takes hold of them and drives
them to give the best of themselves. She is a force of nature with a huge personality.
She sees everything, senses everything. Nothing escapes her. She is a fabulous
She lives the scenes with us. She plays a scene out with her assistant to get the feel
of it. Afterwards, we talk about the mindset of each character. You have to respect
her desire to leave nothing to chance. I really hope our paths cross again.
Did any of the scenes cause you particular problems?
I found the scene where I have to drink the blood hard. It was very disconcerting.
Besides that, nothing was that difficult. The problems came afterwards. I didn't
sleep for two months because I had really got into the skin of this guy who realizes
at the end all that he has lost.
Seeing the movie for the first time was also a shock. It is so powerful and meaningful,
it left me in a state of real confusion.
That maybe also comes from the fact that I was scared to watch myself on screen.
I was incapable of judging my performance, of knowing if I had won my bet with
myself. On the other hand, I thought that Amira was excellent. What you see on
screen functions differently from what happens on set. The result escapes the
context of its creation. It's quite magical. You may think you were good or bad when
the camera was rolling and the film shows you the opposite.
Do you think another actor could have played this part?
Yes, lots. Harvey Keitel could have done it no problem because he's one of those
people who can throw themselves heart and soul into a movie. Before, in mainstream
cinema, whenever it came to sex, they'd dodge the issue with lots of close-ups of the
actor's faces. Nowadays, actors and directors are more comfortable with the reality
of what they're talking about. Pasolini and Kubrick were pioneers. I don't think you
can talk about sex anymore without showing the reality of it. Which means that porn
will restrict itself increasingly to the extreme, all the fantasies that you can't live out at
Mainstream cinema is all about emotion, porn is about sensation.
You are a sex symbol and in this movie you play a homosexual who's thrown
into total disarray through losing dominance over a situation. How do you feel
Fine. Its obviously one of the most important roles of my life. I was able to be what
I'm not. What I am is not at the other end of the scale either. This experience has
simply given me the desire to continue and to take my acting even further.
It's an unusual, difficult movie. People won't necessarily give it a positive reception.
Personally, I was looking for an intense acting experience and I got it. As for judging
my performance, I'll leave that to Catherine and audiences because I just can't. My
wife can't either. She doesn't speak French and can't read the English subtitles, so
she saw the movie without understanding a word of it!
Despite that, she found it very strong and searching.
Has the movie changed your outlook on women? Did you feel yourself being
challenged as a man?
A lot of things gave me pause for thought. When the woman talks about blood and the
fact that a lot of men find menstruation repugnant, it's true. We don't like getting intimate
with women when they have their period. But that doesn't mean we hate them. I
don't share the totality of the film's philosophy.
I'll definitely talk about it one day with Catherine and she'll give me one of those very
tightly argued answers of which she has the secret. It won't necessarily change my
Up until now all your non-porn roles have called on your sexual attributes. Is
your next challenge to take on a part that doesn't?
Exactly. I've only made three non-porn movies so far, with a female director each
time. And each time, they wanted to use that side of me. Not using it could be my
next challenge, to see if I can be as convincing without the sexual aspect. I'd like to
know if I can have the same appeal in mainstream as in porn. Various projects are
in the works. Only time will tell.
Rocco Siffredi was born in Ortona Mare, Italy.
At the age of 16, he enlisted in the Italian navy and served until
1982, when he joined his brother Giorgio in Paris.
In 1985, he met Gabriele Pontello, a renowned adult film director,
who introduced Rocco to the industry. Rocco made his
debut in Belle d'amour. Even though he enjoyed the experience,
he moved to London to pursue a career as a model after falling
in love with an English girl.
In 1990, he resumed his acting career in adult films, quickly
meeting with huge success: he won his first award as Best
Adult Film Actor at the AVN Festival for the movie Buttman's
One award followed another: 3 AVN awards in 1992, the Hot
d'Or in Cannes that same year for the movie The Adventures of
Mikki Finn. In 1993, he won the Hot d'Or as Best European
Actor for the movie Portrait Passion, directed by Molitor. In
1995, the Hot d'Or as Best New Director and, in 1996, the AVN
award as Best European Actor for the movie Never Say Never
In 1997-1998, Rocco embarked on the production of big-budget
adult movies with more inventive screenplays, such as
Rocco Never Dies.
In 1999, with the movie Romance, he appeared in a so-called
traditional production for the first time.
After Romance, Rocco became the figurehead for the Olly Gan
ready-to-wear brand in France and was seen in a number of
advertisements (TV, newspapers, magazines, dream cast, video
In 2001, he appeared in another mainstream movie, Amore
Estremo, directed by Maria Martinelli.
Between 1999 and 2002, Rocco shot a number of big-budget
experimental movies, such as www.roccofunclub.com, which
marked a turning point in adult film. He is the first adult movie
star to have appeared in a film using state-of-the-art technology
and virtual imagery. The film was a huge success and won
awards around the world.
In July 2002, he played the lead in The Fashionistas, a 35-mm
film produced and directed by John Stagliano. This film, probably
the most ambitious to date in the adult film industry, won
several awards at the 2003 AVN Festival in Las Vegas, where
Rocco also screened his latest movie, The Ass Collector, the
biggest he has ever been involved in.
The Ass Collector has been enthusiastically received around
the world and won the Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adult
Movie and Best Porn Scene awards at the Barcelona Erotic
FAMILY LIFE by Jacques Doillon, DUST by Marion Hänsel, THREE MEN AND A CRADLE
by Coline Serreau JOUR ET NUIT by Jean-Bernard Menoud, LA FEMME SECRETE by
Sébastien Grall, SALE DESTIN by Sylvain Madigan, L'ETE EN PENTE DOUCE by Gérard
Krawczyk, LES NOCES BARBARES by Marion Hänsel, UNDER SATAN'S SUN by
Maurice Pialat, LE GRAND CHEMIN by Jean-Loup Hubert, CHINE MA DOULEUR by Dai
Sijie, SEPARATE BEDROOMS by Jacky Cukier, IL MAESTRO by Marion Hänsel, RIO
NEGRO by Atahualpa Lichy, LE BRASIER by Eric Barbier, ISABELLE EBERHARDT by Ian
Pringle, DIEN BIEN PHU by Pierre Schoendoerffer, BUSINESS by Nouri Bouzid, LEOLO
by Jean-Claude Lauzon, FAR FROM BRAZIL by Tilly, BONSOIR by Jean-Pierre Mocky,
LA NUIT SACREE by Nicolas Klotz, LA CHAMBRE 108 by Daniel Mosmann, WOMEN
HAVE ONLY ONE THING ON THEIR MINDS by Charlotte Dubreuil, PUSHING THE LIMITS
by Thierry Donard, L'AFFAIRE by Sergio Gobbi, KILLER KID by Gilles de Maistre, BAR-
NABO OF THE MOUNTAINS by Mario Brenta, FATHER AND SON by Pasquale
Pozzessere, POLIZIOTTI by Giulio Base, PASOLINI MORT D'UN POETE by Marco Tullio
Giordana, MARIO AND THE MAGICIAN by Klaus Maria Brandauer, DEATH AND THE
MAIDEN by Roman Polanski, SECRETS SHARED WITH A STRANGER by Georges
Bardawil, JANE EYRE by Franco Zeffirelli, UNPREDICTABLE NATURE OF THE RIVER by
Bernard Giraudeau, TONKA by Jean-Hugues Anglade, HOSTILE WATERS by David
Drury, BANDITS by Katja von Garnier, MARTHE by Jean-Loup Hubert, FOOLISH HEART
by Hector Babenco, HÖLDERLIN LE CAVALIER DE FEU by Nina Grosse, TGV by
Moussa Touré, ROMANCE by Catherine Breillat, BLAME IT ON VOLTAIRE by Abdel
Kechiche, FAT GIRL by Catherine Breillat, CONFESSION D'UN DRAGEUR by Alain Soral,
SEX IS COMEDY by Catherine Breillat, ANATOMY OF HELL by Catherine Breillat.
Jean-François Lepetit has executive-produced for Walt Disney in the USA:
- THREE MEN AND A BABY (remake of THREE MEN AND A CRADLE) directed by
- THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY (sequel to the remake) directed by Emile Ardolino,
- PARADISE (remake of LE GRAND CHEMIN) directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue.
And a first IMAX-OMNIMAX feature entitled I WRITE IN SPACE by Pierre Etaix.
Jean-François Lepetit founded Flach Film in 1983 and has produced or coproduced many feature films, TV movies and documentaries.
YOUTH SERIES SECONDE B (104X26MN), C'EST COOL (91X26 MN) AIRED ON FRANCE
2,LA MADONE ET LE DRAGON BY SAMUEL FULLER, LES MOUETTES BY JEAN CHAPOT,
UN BALLON DANS LA TETE BY MICHAËLA WATTEAUX, URGENCE D'AIMER BY PHILLIPE
LE GUAY, ARMEN ET BULLIK BY ALAN COOKE, UN OTAGE DE TROP BY PHILIPPE
GALLAND, LA REGLE DE L'HOMME BY JEAN DANIEL VERHAEGHE, LE VENT DE L'OU-
BLI BY CHANTAL PICAULT, LES MOTS QUI DECHIRENT BY MARCO PAULY, PARENTS A
MI-TEMPS BY ALAIN TASMA, UN GARCON SUR LA COLLINE BY DOMINIQUE BARON,
JE M'APPELLE REGINE BY PIERRE AKNINE, TOUS LES HOMMES SONT MENTEURS BY
ALAIN WERMUS, L'AMOUR A L'OMBRE BY PHILIPPE VENAULT, L'HUILE SUR LE FEU BY
JEAN-DANIEL VERHAEGHE, LA DISGRACE BY DOMINIQUE BARON, TOUT CE QUI
BRILLE BY LOU JEUNET, LA BASTIDE BLANCHE BY MIGUEL COURTOIS, LA COURSE
DE L'ESCARGOT BY JÉRÔME BOIVIN, BOB LE MAGNIFIQUE BY MARC ANGELO, UNE
FEMME A LA DERIVE BY JÉRÔME ENRICO, LA TRESSE D'AMINATA BY DOMINIQUE
BARON, A BICYCLETTE BY MERZAK ALLOUACHE, PARENTS A MI-TEMPS II BY
CAROLINE HUPPERT, L'INCONNUE DU VAL PERDU BY SERGE MEYNARD, DE TOUTE
URGENCE BY PHILIPPE TRIBOIT, L'AUBE INSOLITE BY CLAUDE GRINBERG, HOPITAL
SOUTERRAIN BY SERGE MEYNARD, LE HASARD FAIT BIEN LES CHOSES BY LORENZO
GABRIELE, LES FEMMES ONT TOUJOURS RAISON BY ELISABETH RAPPENEAU, VOUS
ETES DE LA REGION ? BY LIONEL EPP, DEMAIN NOUS APPARTIENT BY PATRICK
POUBEL, LE PAYS DES ENFANTS PERDUS BY FRANCIS GIROD.
L'AMOUR EN FRANCE by Daniel Karlin, UNE FEMME CONTRE LA MAFIA by Irène
Richard, BENAZIR BHUTTO by Omar Amiralai, REMINISCENCE ou LA SECTION
ANDERSON 20 ANS APRES by Pierre Schoendoerffer, LE SOULEVEMENT DU GHETTO
DE VARSOVIE by Willy Lindwer, PIN UP by Jérôme Camuzat, PHOOLAN DEVI by Irène
Richard, COLLECTION LES ECRIVAINS DU XXEME SIECLE, LES ANNEES ARRUZA by
Emilio Maillé, UN 8 JUILLET A SEVILLE by Emilio Maillé, UN PARCOURS ALGERIEN a
documentary by Hervé Bourges, directed by Alain Ferrari.
Boy with bird
Boys playing doctor
Amira Casar's Body Double
Key make-up artist
Key hair design
Maria Edite MOREIRA
Maria João SANTOS
ANATOMY OF HELL
Adapted by Catherine Breillat from her book
Pedro Sá SANTOS
Paulo Jorge ANTUNES
Joana Alcazar, Orlando Alegria, Suzete Pires
Maria João Scherek, Atílio Silva, Flor Hernandez
Jean-Yves Delignere, Rui Brizida, Francisco Piscina
Paulo Dias, Telma de Jerusalem, José Ramalho
Nuno Cunha, Eduardo Piteira, Jorge Rocha
Aires Dias, Manuela Osorio
A film by
Executive Production Portugal
António da Cunha Telles
Flach Film – CB Films
With the participation of Canal +
and the Centre National de la Cinématographie
D’julz "Timeless Bass"
(c) 20:20 vision records
composed and produced by D'julz Sigle studio
Ventes à l'étranger
FLACH PYRAMIDE INTERNATIONAL – FPI
With thanks to
CÃMARA MUNICIPAL DE LISBOA
INSTITUTO SUPERIOR DE AGRONOMIA
UNIVERSIDADE TÉCNICA DE LISBOA
Film lab GTC
Film stock FUJI
Sound equipment DCA
Post production AUDITEL - TELETOTA
Auditorium AUDITEL - TELETOTA
Insurance LES ASSURANCES CONTINENTALES
Dépôt légal 2003
Copyright 2003 - Flach Film - CB FILMS
All rights reserved - visa d’exploitation 106655