Julia Ducournau

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Julia Ducournau
Julia Ducournau, Cannes 2021 closing ceremony.jpg
Ducournau at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony
Born (1983-11-18) 18 November 1983 (age 38)
Paris, France
EducationLa Fémis
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
Years active2011–present

Julia Ducournau (French: [ʒylja dykuʁno]; born 18 November 1983) is a French film director and screenwriter. She made her feature film debut in 2016 with Raw. At the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, she won the Palme d'Or for her film Titane, which made her the second female director to win the award as well as the first to win the award solo. Additionally, Ducournau also received a nomination for Best Director at the 75th British Academy Film Awards. Her films typically fall under the body horror genre.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Julia Ducournau was born in Paris to a gynaecologist mother and dermatologist father.[2] She attended La Fémis and studied screenwriting. Her first film, Junior, is a short film about a girl who “after contracting a stomach bug” began to “shed her skin” like a snake.[1] In 2011, Junior won the Petit Rail d'Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.[3] In 2012, Ducournau released a TV-film titled Mange. The film follows a recovering bulimic who is seeking “revenge on her college tormentor.”[1] Her first feature film is 2016's Raw.[4][1] The project had been developed through the TorinoFilmLab Framework programme in 2013. Raw[5][6][7][8] was screened in the International Critics' Week section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[9] In October 2016, Raw won the Sutherland Award for Best First Feature at the London Film Festival.[10] Per David Fear of Rolling Stone, Raw is a contender for the "best horror movie of the decade."[11]

In 2021, Ducournau's sophomore feature Titane was bought by Neon.[12] For Titane, Ducournau was awarded the coveted Palme d'Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival where it had its world premiere. The award was accidentally presented to Ducournau at the beginning of the awards ceremony by jury president Spike Lee, although it was intended to be the final award of the evening.[13] Ducournau is the second female filmmaker to win after Jane Campion in 1993 for The Piano, the first to win not jointly with another director (Campion had won jointly alongside Chen Kaige, for Farewell My Concubine),[14] and the fourth female overall to win after Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux won in 2013 for their performances in Blue is the Warmest Colour.[15] Additionally, Ducournau also received a nomination for Best Director at the 75th British Academy Film Awards.

Theme and style[edit]

Xavier Aldana Reyes categorizes Ducournau's films as "Gothic Horror Heroinism."[16] This is illustrated by "graphic body horror" shown in all of her films.[1][16] According to Ducournau, her "flesh fascination stems from her childhood" since both her parents are doctors.[1] Per Ducournau, the way in which her parents spoke about the human body growing up informed her artistic expression within her films. For instance, she outlines in an interview with The Guardian that "doctors have this very upfront yet distant way of talking about bodies and death."[1] Alex Godfrey, Guardian journalist, illustrates this "flesh fascination" can be seen through her "unflinching" use of the camera in Raw, with "unforgiving" closeups and "atrocities un-glorified."[1]

Ducournau's work has become known for being brutal and disturbing. In a screening of her film Raw at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, two audience members reportedly fainted and were taken to the hospital.[17] Though her film generated a surprising response from these viewers, Ducournau remains assured in her representations of humanity through her filmmaking. The Independent's Jack Shepherd writes: "the director would rightly much rather the discussion around Raw centre on the question of what it means to be human".[17] In their interview, Ducournau herself states: “You have to accept some parts of us that are hard to watch, hard to acknowledge because it’s in us, because it’s scary."[17] Ducournau considers the title character of David Lynch's The Elephant Man as "the essence of humanity," which she takes inspiration from in her filmography.[17] In an interview with Vulture's Rachel Handler, Ducournau discusses her thematic interest in relating monstrosity to coming-of-age, suggesting that "the element of monstrosity in teenage years is incredibly enduring and real."[18] She takes inspiration from artists whose work centers around monstrosity: filmmakers like David Lynch and David Cronenberg, and authors like Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe.[18]

Ducournau is also very passionate about separating her gender from her craft and from her recognition in the film industry. In a conversation with Indiewire's Eric Kohn, she states, "When people say I’m a woman director—I mean, that’s always a bit annoying, because I’m a person."[19] On her historic Palme d'Or win at Cannes, Ducournau told ABC News' Jake Coyle: "Maybe we [are] entering an era where things would be more equal in acknowledging of the work of people beyond their gender."[20]


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer
2011 Junior Yes Yes Short film
Cannes Film Festival – Petit Rail d'Or
2012 Mange Yes Yes Television film; co-director
2016 Raw Yes Yes Austin Fantastic Fest – Best Director (Next Wave Features)
Cannes Film FestivalInternational Critics' Week FIPRESCI Prize
Film Fest Gent – Explore Award
London Film FestivalSutherland Trophy
Sitges Film Festival – Citizen Kane Award for Best Directorial Revelation
Sitges Film Festival – Carnet Jove Jury Award for Best Feature Length Film
Sitges Film Festival – Méliès d'Argent for Best Feature Length European Film
Prix Louis Delluc 2017
2021 Servant Yes No TV series; 2 episodes
2021 Titane Yes Yes Cannes Film FestivalPalme d'Or
Toronto International Film FestivalPeople's Choice Award: Midnight Madness
75th British Academy Film AwardsBest Director (Nominated)

Other work[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Godfrey, Alex (30 March 2017). "Raw director Julia Ducournau: 'Cannibalism is part of humanity'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Film-maker Julia Ducournau: 'Women kicked serious ass this year'". the Guardian. 21 November 2021. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Julia Ducournau". La Fémis.
  4. ^ Fear, David (13 March 2017). "'Raw' Review: Cannibal Coming-of-Age Film Is a Modern Horror Masterpiece". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  5. ^ Debruge, Peter (3 January 2017). "10 Directors to Watch: Julia Ducournau Reveals 'Raw' Side of French Cinema". Variety. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  6. ^ Brown, Todd (12 January 2017). "RAW: Watch The Hypnotic And Grotesque Red Band Trailer For Julia Ducournau's Acclaimed Debut". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Red Band Trailer Revealed For Julia Ducournau's Directorial Debut RAW". Horror Cult Films. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  8. ^ Berger, Laura (16 January 2017). "A Vegetarian Transforms into a Cannibal in Julia Ducournau's "Raw"". Women and Hollywood. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Grave". Semaine de la Critique. Archived from the original on 16 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Diversity Reigns at the London Film Festival Awards". What's Worth Seeing. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  11. ^ "The Second Act: Modulating Fear, Terror and Horror". Writing the Horror Movie. 2013. doi:10.5040/9781501340581.ch-007. ISBN 9781501340581.
  12. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (10 September 2019). "Neon Nabs 'Titane,' Follow-Up Feature From 'Raw' Director Julia Ducournau". Variety. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Julia Ducournau Becomes the Second Female Director Ever to Win the Palme d'Or". Vogue. 17 July 2021. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  14. ^ "Cannes Film Festival: Titane wins top Palme d'Or prize". BBC News. 17 July 2021. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  15. ^ Chang, Justin (26 May 2013). "Cannes: 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' Wins Palme d' Or". Variety. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  16. ^ a b Xavier, Aldana Reyes (2019). "Introduction: Gothic and Horror Heroinism in the Age of Postfeminism". Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural. 4: 8–21 – via Google Scholar.
  17. ^ a b c d "Meet Julia Ducournau, director of the cannibal film making audiences faint". The Independent. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  18. ^ a b Handler, Rachel (5 October 2021). "Under Her Skin". Vulture. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  19. ^ Kohn, Eric (17 July 2021). "Palme d'Or Winner Julia Ducournau on Groundbreaking 'Titane': 'I Don't Want My Gender to Define Me'". IndieWire. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Q&A: Julia Ducournau on bodies, cars and love in 'Titane'". ABC News. Retrieved 6 December 2021.

External links[edit]