Susanna // 2018

Writer/Director/Producer

In an isolated religious community, the desperation of a pregnant woman to escape her abusive domestic condition leads her to enlist a male friend to accuse her of infidelity. She hopes being falsely charged by a man will be taken as truth in the trial of Elders. To find her guilty of this crime would mean excommunication into the vast unknown outside their gates. A risk Susanna is willing to take in order to be free.

DIRECTOR’S NOTE:

The story of Susanna goes back to the Bible in the Book of Daniel. It is written that Susanna, a virtuous young wife, while bathing in her private garden is spied upon by two older men. The men confront Susanna and tell her that she either has sex with them or they will accuse her of meeting a man in her garden. She refuses and so she is tried and sentenced to death until Daniel intervenes, questions the two men, proves their statements false and saves Susanna.  
“Susanna and the Elders” is one of the few Biblical stories which speaks of a nude female and therefore artists throughout the 16th and 17th century of Europe often depicted the subject matter. But only one of those artists was a woman, Artemisia Gentileschi. Showing Susanna as vulnerable, frightened and trapped by the men who sexually exploit her, Artemisia took a sharp turn from the male artists who depicted Susanna as a seductress.
I aim to continue the long tradition of artists who have taken on the story of “Susanna and the Elders” and build narratively on what Gentileschi revealed through her feminine gaze. I am most interested in how the patriarchal hierarchy creates narratives which limit where women can go both mentally and physically. And furthermore how these imposed, unnatural structures create a maze in which women are forced into the act of pretense to achieve freedom.  The film, “Susanna” is my interpretation of one of the oldest narratives which has defined our humanity. A narrative very much alive today in the way we all respond to the world.

 Artemisia Gentileschi, 1610

Artemisia Gentileschi, 1610

Here you find side by side Artemisia Gentileschi’s painting of Susanna and the Elders in 1610 and the second poster for my new short, “Susanna."
The story of Susanna goes back to the Bible in the Book of Daniel. It is written that Susanna, a virtuous young wife, while bathing in her private garden is spied upon by two older men. The men confront Susanna and demand that she either has sex with them or they will accuse her of meeting a man in her garden. She refuses and so she is tried for the crime, the Elders are believed and Susanna is sentenced to death until Daniel intervenes. Daniel questions the two men, proves their statements false and saves Susanna. 
“Susanna and the Elders” is one of the few Biblical stories which speaks of a nude female and therefore artists throughout the 16th and 17th century of Europe often depicted the subject matter. But only one of those artists was a woman, Artemisia Gentileschi. Showing Susanna as vulnerable, frightened and trapped by the men who sexually exploit her, Artemisia took a sharp turn from the male artists who depicted Susanna as a seductress.
I aim to continue the long tradition of artists who have taken on the story of “Susanna and the Elders” and build narratively on what Gentileschi revealed through her feminine gaze. I am most interested in how the patriarchal hierarchy creates narratives which limit where women can go both mentally and physically? How do these imposed, unnatural structures creating a maze in which women are forced into the act of pretense to achieve freedom? The film, “Susanna” is my interpretation of one of the oldest narratives which has defined our humanity. A narrative very much alive today in the way we all respond to the world.
This second poster created by Arpi Adamyan, graphic designer, took this inspiration one step further, she reinterpreted the painting itself, with our Susanna no longer a victim beholden to her gender but the master of the narrative she weaves.