What’s new in cinema – “Cascadeuses”: the excitement of women remains in the shadows – Culture


They let themselves be beaten, beaten, and tossed down the stairs: In the film, the stunt women embody far more pure victims than their male colleagues. The Swiss documentary “Cascadeuses” by Elena Avdija gets to the bottom of the victim stunts.

In real life, Petra Sprecher is very defensive and quick-witted – and not just when speaking. She worked for years in Los Angeles as a stuntwoman.

It started with the Basilisk Youth Circus in Basel. As a trapeze artist with Cirque de Soleil, she emerged as a star in the world.


Among other things, Petra Sprecher worked on “Aeon Flux” as a stuntwoman and training partner for Charlize Theron.

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Later she went to Los Angeles and took to the air as a stuntwoman in productions such as “Flight” with Denzel Washington, in “Pirates of the Caribbean” or in “Eagle Eye”.

Searching for female victims

But soon Hollywood’s “flying business” became rarer, and female victims were gradually sought after in crime films: “So you’re the one who rapes, beats and pushes down the stairs…”, says Petra Sprecher.

Suddenly, the circus artist’s sovereign elegance was no longer required, but rather the disguised victim’s attitude. No straight knees, but reliable slack.

Hit ready for the movie

The experience that Petra Sprecher had only a few years later in Los Angeles is the daily life of the French acrobats, the “Cascidoes”. Together with Petra Sprecher, you are at the center of Elena Avdija’s Swiss documentary.

Elena Avdija recalls with a laugh that she originally started her film project out of a fascination with the hard work of sexy women.

But she soon realized that these were mostly women victims of violence. And so far no one has noticed this important aspect of the film industry.

Trick woman in the shadows

So she was interested in what remained in the dark, says Elena Avdija. Everything that is wonderfully shot for cinema requires people to stay in the blind spot: “Stunts are part of the magic of cinema.

Several women in the gymnasium hold sticks, bending over.  young man between.


Hard Training: The documentary also shows how much hard work is behind the scenes of the stunt.

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The question quickly arises of who suffers the most violence and how the female body is portrayed on screen, says Elena Avdija. In her documentary “Cascadeuses,” she shows it with a chilling montage of sacrificial stunts in a series of European films.

The text dictates the body image

Women are raped, beaten, their hair pulled, trampled on or strangled. These are not scenes from extreme films, but from ordinary film and television dramas.

On the right is an elderly woman with her hair tied up in a shirt, on the left is a man, her hands in the air.  in the parking lot.


The script dictates – the trick that the women pull off. The film focuses on sexy women Virginie, Petra and Estelle.

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Of course, sexy women enhance these body images with their own heroic efforts. The documentary filmmaker sees it that way, too. But there is the issue of empowerment. Sexy women do not influence the scenarios, they often do not even know what exactly is needed even before the start of filming.

Elena Avdija says that controlling how the female body is represented and represented in general rests with the filmmakers and screenwriters. She speaks in the masculine form: “These professions are still male-dominated.”

Theatrical release: 11.17.2022

The 2nd Forum of Culture and Arts in Conversation, November 17, 2022, at 9:03 am.

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