THE HEADLESS WOMAN (LA MUJER SIN CABEZA)
2008 / 87min / 35mm
DIRECTOR: LUCRECIA MARTEL
Introduction & Conversation led by KJ Relth of UCLA Film & Television Archive
“The work of a genius, or at very least one of the most talented filmmakers in the world” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian), The Headless Woman is the mesmerizing third feature by Lucrecia Martel — and likely her chef d'oeuvre. María Onetto plays Verónica, a middle-aged, bottle-blonde dentist in Argentina’s Salta province who may or may not have struck and killed something — or someone — while driving home one afternoon. Verónica bangs her head in the process, and spends the film in a woozy, disorientated, concussive state, while the men in her pampered, privileged family apparently collude to erase all traces of the accident. The film’s dreamy hyper-reality and moody, mysterious metaphysics have drawn comparisons to Luis Buñuel, David Lynch, the Michael Haneke of Caché, and the Antonioni of L’Avventura and Blow Up. The indigenous bodies haunting the edges of the frame suggest that a deeper meditation on colonial guilt may be afoot. DP Barbara Alvarez imparts a restrained—and very strange—spatial texture to Lucrecia Martel’s excitingly splintered third feature. Martel’s rare gift for building social melodrama from sonic and spatial textures, behavioral nuances, and an unerringly brilliant sense of the joys, tensions, and endless reserves of suppressed emotion lurking within the familial structure is here pushed to another level of creative daring.
Lucrecia Martel is an award-winning filmmakers who has been heralded as “one of the most prodigiously talented filmmakers in contemporary world cinema” (Haden Guest, BOMB Magazine). Her first film, La Cienaga, which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and won numerous awards, announced her as an exciting new voice in Argentine cinema. She followed it up with The Holy Girl (2004) and The Headless Woman. All three films tackle issues of femaleness in middle-class suburban Argentine culture with a uniquely restrained and cinematic irreverence. Her latest, Zama, premiered at the 2017 Venice Film Festival to major critical acclaim and was chosen as Argentina’s submission for the 2018 Foreign Language Oscar.
Introduction by KJ Relth of UCLA Film & Television Archive