Today we announce full details of Cruel Flesh: Films of the New French Extremity, a season of brutally compelling films that explore intimacy in a violent world. Running throughout May at BFI Southbank, the programme explores the unique moment in cinema history that sent shockwaves through arthouse sensibilities. 

This season, curated by writer, broadcaster and film programmer Anna Bogutskaya, will feature the work of filmmakers such as Claire Denis (Trouble Every Day), François Ozon (Criminal Lovers), Leos Carax (Pola X), Marina de Van (In My Skin), Lucile Hadžihalilovic (La Bouche de Jean-Pierre, with Hadžihalilovic attending in person), and Gaspar Noé, the latter of whom will also be subject of a special focus in May. 

Focus On: Gaspar Noé coincides with the release of the filmmaker’s new work Vortex (2021), and will include in person appearances from the director. The centrepiece event of the focus will be Gaspar Noé in Conversation on 10 May, during which the one-of-a-kind filmmaker will reflect upon his work so far, including Vortex, which will be on extended run at BFI Southbank when it is released in cinemas UK-wide by Picturehouse Entertainment on 13 May. There will also be a New French Extremity collection on BFI Player, available concurrently with the BFI Southbank season. 

Contextual events during the New French Extremity season will including opening event Sex and Death, but Make It Arthouse, a richly illustrated talk from season curator Anna Bogutskaya on 3 May that will introduce the key titles, filmmakers and thematic preoccupations of this distinct film movement. 

There will also be an online panel discussion – Horror à la française – available for free on BFI YouTube from 11 to 31 May, hosted by Bogutskaya with guest experts Alexandra West, author of Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of 1000 Women in Horror, and Lindsay Hallam, who researches horror, gender and the body. As part of the season a four-session course running every Tuesday – City Lit at the BFI: New French Extremity – led by Dr Paul Sutton, will consider the historical, cultural, social and political context for this phenomenon and seek to examine a number of these films in detail.