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Early 19th century: Because of her striking appearance, South African Saartjie Baartman is paraded around Europe like a wild animal in a circus act.
Saartjie and her master Caezar leave South Africa to have her perform in London as a circus attraction for sensation-hungry whites. This free-spirited woman, abused and insulted in her short life, becomes an icon in the London slums as the "Hottentot Venus". She is promised fame and glory, but instead reaps misery and humiliation.
In his film, director Abdel Kechiche recounts the historically documented stages of Baartmann's life, from her stay in London in 1810 to her death and afterlife as a medical research subject in Paris in 1815.
"A superb, weighty film about colonial exploitation and sex and morality." (The Observer)