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Casta Diva| 4mins
Director: Stefan Tenev | Producer: Natalia Dimitrova
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: Bulgaria
Subject Tags: bulgaria, europe, gender, violence
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
The main idea of the film is to play with the audience’s expectations. The spectators are misled into believing that the beginning of the film is a prelude to scenes of sex and violence; instead, what they are watching is the training process of a female gymnast, learning an asymmetric bars combination. In the beginning, we see series of quotes by Nietzsche, Freud and Marquis de Sade among others, selected for their emotional impact and bold, even controversial attitude towards sex and violence. In the first scene, a man (the coach) "tortures" a girl (the gymnast): the girl is suspended in the air and the man is altering the position of her body by a complicated pulley system. Shot in slight slow motion (33 FPS) to emphasise the smoothness of detail, the scene is shot intentionally as presenting an act of violence. The girl reacts intensively to all different stages of her body treatment and forced alteration. In the beginning we see her suspended in the empty space, languid, in apathy. After the first appearance of the man, her apathy gives way to fear. When her body eventually comes off the ground, at the moment when she is being suspended only by her hands, her fear is replaced by pain. The girl’s pain becomes the main emotional leitmotif until the action is transported to the real sports environment. There we see repetition of the "torture", once again shot in slow motion (100 FPS), but this time we discover that the athlete is actually performing elements of her asymmetric bars combination in the presence of her coach. The culmination of the scene is when the girl performs jumps in the air, detaching herself from the bars, defying gravity. As an equally important aspect of the plot, the beauty of the female’s body and the way it reacts to physical strain are revealed. The film "Casta Diva" is an attempt to show pain in the context of the notions of sadism and masochism, which are fundamental aspects of human character.

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