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A remarkable work by one of France's first groundbreaking female filmmakers, OLIVIA easily merits rediscovery today after being neglected for nearly 70 years.
Plunging the viewer and the main character into a true lion s den, Jacqueline Audry (1908-1977) depicts a 19th century boarding school for young girls, one divided into two camps where all the shots, even the most underhanded, are allowed. That's because the two mistresses of the house, Miss Julie (Edwige Feuillère) and Miss Cara (Simone Simon) are engaged in a turf war as well as a war of the heart. Competing for the affections of their students, they route passion, hatred and unexpected reversals of loyalties.
OLIVIA is a truly unique film that depicts a world almost without men. For 1950s France, when homosexuality was still largely considered deviant, Audry has made a fundamentally feminist film.