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Soundtracking:Southland Tales

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Recommend TIFF: Elle Fanning is "Mary Shelley"(Email)

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Our ongoing adventuresat TIFF

In the summer of 1816 legendary Romantic literary figures Mary Shelley (and stepsister Claire Clairmont),Percy Shelley,Lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were holed up in a Swiss estate and challenged each other to write scary ghost stories.From that fateful contest two famous works of horror emerged ("Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus"in 1818 and "The Vampyre"in 1819 -- neither of them actual ghost stories!).Ken Russell attacked this collision of authors with his trademark sexual abandon and visual insanity inGothic(1986) and his wasn't the first or last film to stare with fascination at that morbid contest 201 years ago.We return to that summer for a good chunk ofHaifaa al-Mansour'sMary Shelleybut with far different intent.

Haifaa al-Mansour,the first Saudi female film director (she previously directedWadjda) is more interested in the trailblazing of Mary Shelley (née Godwin) as a female author -- and the unique challenges that came with her gender in the literary world of 1818 -- than in the creation of Frankenstein...


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