Fairy tales in the real world

Women’s and Gender Studies department welcomes everyone to a free learning event

La Belle Endormie (The Sleeping Beauty)


If you’re a fan of modern fairy tale films that are an edgier, more provocative version of the original, odds are good you’ll want to attend this upcoming University of Winnipeg (U of W) event.

On Friday, March 20, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) and the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies (IWGS) are holding a free film screening event of Catherine Breillat’s La Belle Endormie (The Sleeping Beauty). The event will include free snacks, a post-movie discussion, and doors are open to everyone.

While it is based on the traditional “Sleeping Beauty” folklore, La Belle Endormie strays far from its tame original, and instead offers an eroticized retelling that Breillat is so well known for.

“People who are going should expect Game of Thrones-type sex and nudity,” Dr. Pauline Greenhill, Professor at the U of W, says.

Greenhill will host the event as an extension of a combined 4000 level WGS and cultural studies class, with the hopes of gathering more people into the discussion of sex, sexuality and gender in the media.

“These are masters and honours students, and I just thought if I was going be spending one class screening the film, that it would be a good idea to kind of open it up so other people could share in our smartness,” Greenhill says.

Disney fairy tale movies have often received a bad rap for their conceptualization of hegemonic discourses, but now with films like these, Greenhill thinks a transition is beginning to take form. 

“Disney is now, to a certain extent, rethinking its ideas … I want to get the audiences’ reaction to what I see in the film because I find that really useful.” Greenhill says.

The idea of the event has already attracted Erin Meagan Schwartz, a U of W student and co-coordinator of IWGS, who believes that the open invitation will draw students from all fields of study to participate.

“I think it’s super great that it’s open to everyone, because they have a space to learn. I’m a WGS major, so obviously I’m having these discussions a lot, but if you’re a bio or psych student, you probably don’t. So its nice that you can come to this, its very open,” Schwartz says.

“Everyone in situations and events like this are always encouraged to take part in discussion, but you also don’t have a responsibility if you don’t feel comfortable, you can just watch it and listen. I know for me, I learn the best through listening and through other people sharing their own opinions.”

The event itself offers all sorts of inducements to participate, but more importantly, it opens the gates for more learning spaces beyond the classroom.

Published in Volume 69, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 11, 2015)

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