Treut’s transgressive brand of filmmaking is a much needed intervention into the arena of sexual politics. Her misbehaving women are a vital form of resistance. Julia Knight, Sight and Sound.
Monika Treut was born in Moenchengladbach, Germany, on April 6, 1954. She studied literature and politics at Philipps-University, Marburg. In the mid-seventies she began working with video. Her PhD thesis The Cruel Woman: Female Images in the Writing of Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was published in Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 1984.
In the mid-eighties Treut started to write, direct and produce award-winning independent features and documentaries, which screened at numerous film festivals throughout the world and enjoy international distribution. Retrospectives have been held in Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Taipei, Toronto, Cambridge, Helsinki, Hamburg, Thessaloniki, Prague, Warsaw, Athens, Los Angeles and Lisbon.
Treut’s first feature, co-directed with Elfi Mikesch, was the controversial Seduction: The Cruel Woman,1985, which since has become a cult classic. The black and white coming-out tale Virgin Machine followed in 1988. My Father Is Coming, a comedy of manners set in New York, was released in 1991.
In 1992, Treut began directing documentaries including Female Misbehavior, four portraits of
bad girls, among them Annie Sprinkle and Camille Paglia; Didn’t Do It For Love in 1997, a portrait of Norwegian-born Eva Norvind, B-movie star in Mexico, later dominatrix in New York; Gendernauts in 1999, about a group portrait of transgendered cyborgs in San Francisco. In 2001 Treut completed Warrior of Light, on Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, an internationally renowned artist and human rights activist who works with endangered children in the streets and slums of Rio de Janeiro.
Since 2002 Treut is infatuated with Taiwan. There she wrote, directed and co-produced 3 documentaries, Tigerwomen Grow Wings about three generations of women, featuring well-known writer Li Ang, famed opera singer Hsieh Yueh Hsia and young film director DJ Chen. Made in Taiwan, a portrait of a 17-year-old dance student followed in 2005. In 2009 Treut released Ghosted a feature film about an unsual love story between Hamburg and Taipei. Most recently another documentary was finished The Raw and the Cooked, a culinary journey through Taiwan, which aptly premieres at the 2012 Berlin international film festival’s section Culinary Cinema.
Since 1990 Treut has also been teaching and lecturing at Colleges (Vassar, Hollins, and Dartmouth), Art Institutes (SFAI) and Universities (IU Bloomington, UI Chicago, UC San Diego and Cornell U) in the U.S. Treut runs the independent film production company, Hyena Films, with offices in Hamburg, Germany.