Deepa Mehta’s startling film Anatomy of Violence feels even more vital and relevant during a very uncertain time in the world, especially when it comes to the issue of sexual violence. We sat down with the storied filmmaker on the afternoon at the TIFF Bell Lightbox where her movie was set to debut. Here is an condensed version of our conversation, which spanned over thirty minutes.
Scene Creek: Why do you think it’s important that your film is released now?
Deepa Mehta: There’s a beautiful saying, that we aren’t stuck in bad traffic, we are the traffic and that’s what I think about my film. We are responsible for making monsters, you know.
SC: Your film is a tough watch. Was it meant to feel polished or was this your desired aesthetic?
DM: I didn’t want or stop for breaks for hair and makeup. I wanted it to look like a home movie and to feel like it it was an experience that was visceral and organic. When you humanize the rapists, what you do is get a systemic analysis, you can have a systemic analysis, as opposed to saying “oh, this is a monster, this is a victim, let’s focus on the victim, let’s focus on the monster”. Because the minute you think of them as monsters, you dismiss them. They’re not your problem. But actually, hello? they are a problem.
SC: Did you feel uncomfortable making the film?
DM: Making the film, no. Watching it with an audience, yes. It hits really close to home. I mean, I feel uncomfortable and I’ve seen it about 120 times. It’s not the event, we don’t actually show the rape, I don’t want to show the rape. It’s not about the rape, about showing it in that sense. But I think, for me, after the rape is as bad as the rape could be.
I wanted to do something respectful to the subject, and that meant no artifice, whatever it may be. It was a tough decision, but that’s why there is no funding from anybody because we didn’t want to be encumbered by that.
SC: How do we bring about awareness?
I think that awareness starts at home. It’s absolutely right, it’s how you bring up your children. It has to start at home. It has to start with education. If we are going to be slaves to the patriarchy then we’re screwed, and that is the case, forever and ever and ever.
Anatomy of Violence is now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Mehta and her producing partner David Hamilton hope that the film will become a part of the Canadian curriculum and they aim to bring it to schools. They have already done so in Iceland and hopefully will be able to do the same in Canada as well.