Julia Ducournau On Her Shocking Feature Debut ‘Raw’

Illustrated by Kelly Abeln

Girl meats world

The following feature appears in the March 2017 issue of NYLON.

If you’re not a vegetarian already, Raw might put you off meat for life. When it screened at last September’s Toronto International Film Festival, the unflinching horror movie, with its realistic depiction of cannibalism, made several audience members pass out. The debut feature from French filmmaker Julia Ducournau follows Justine (Garance Marillier), a lifelong herbivore who develops a taste for human flesh after being forced to eat meat during a veterinary school hazing ritual. Her cannibalistic compulsions dovetail with her burgeoning sexuality, and she discovers a complex, kindred spirit in the form of her sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf). It’s the story of a sibling rivalry with a body count, viscerally depicted with some of the most gruesome practical effects in recent memory. We spoke to Ducournau about the impetus to create this disturbing, idiosyncratic work of cinema, and why cannibalism is the perfect metaphor for a young woman’s sexual awakening.

What drew you to making a film about cannibalism? 
I thought it was interesting to put the audience in the shoes of someone who would usually qualify as being a monster, and I tried to dig deep into this dark side of humanity. I think it’s important that we get in touch with it to be aware of what it means to grow up as moral beings, and to be able to tell the difference between right and wrong.

The hazing scenes are disturbing and inhumane. How do they fit into that moral framework?  
For the hazing, it was very clear to me that I had to build up the empathy of Justine, because when the switch [to eating meat] happens, I wanted the audience to empathize with her and not with her victim, and to fear for her. 

How would you characterize the sibling rivalry between Justine and Alexia? 
Alexia is on the animal side of humanity. If she’s hungry, she’s going to do everything she can to eat, and she’s not going to question whether it’s right or wrong. Justine is not like that. At one point, she would rather hurt herself than hurt or kill another human being, which is not the case for her sister. Also, relationships between siblings are very cinematic. When you have a sister or brother, they can love each other, and then the next thing you know they can hate each other. You don’t need to explain with dialogue why they go from one extreme to the other. It’s just implied in the bond.

Justine’s discovery of her cannibalistic tendencies is closely linked with her sexual awakening. Was this a comment on depictions of female sexuality? 
Obviously, in every coming-of-age movie you have the question of sexuality that is incredibly important and always there. I feel that most of the time female sexuality, especially when it’s beginning in young girls, is always portrayed as something very psychological, always surrounded with a lot of fear and shame. I wanted a more direct way to portray female sexuality that is for me extremely true: the desire to have sex. I wanted to shape something that is not shameful and not asking for any forgiveness.

The special effects of this film are so visceral. How did you manage to make them look so real?  
I really like on-set special effects, because I think they’re more gritty and more organic. They have a texture that you can’t find in CGI. I don’t like only computer-generated imagery, because I think that we are very desensitized to it. There’s something about CGI blood that’s not moving. In The Shining, when the doors open and there is a flood of blood that comes out, if it had been CGI it would have been completely empty of meaning. 

Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.



Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

"In the midst of chaos there's opportunity"

Following the travesty that was Fyre Festival, Ja Rule wants to take another stab at creating a music festival. Good luck getting that off the ground.

On Thursday, the rapper spoke to TMZ, where he revealed that he was planning to relaunch Icon, an app used to book entertainers, which is similar to Billy McFarland's Fyre app. He told the outlet that he wanted to create a festival similar to Fyre to support it.

"[Fyre Festival] is heartbreaking to me. It was something that I really, really wanted to be special and amazing, and it just didn't turn out that way, but in the midst of chaos there's opportunity, so I'm working on a lot of new things," he says. He then gets into the fact that he wants to form a music festival. "[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was... I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn't hear it from me."

Ja Rule actually doesn't seem to think he is at all responsible for what came from Fyre Fest, claiming in a Twitter post that he was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray." Even if that's his feeling, he should realize that anyone involved with Fyre shouldn't ever try their hand at music festivals again.