SUMMARY: An erotic dancer cannot escape the recurring image of a hat worn by a man who abused her as a child.
WHY IT’S HERE: Canadian animator Michele Cournoyer’s ‘The Hat’ is a tough viewing experience that examines the long-lasting effect that child abuse can have on a human mind. Beginning with the image of a woman’s exposed breasts, the camera then pans up to her sad, reflective eyes, taking us back in time to a representation of her ordeal at the hands of a man whose face is constantly hidden beneath a hat. The hat becomes a recurring motif, brilliant transformed into various shapes, most memorably a young girl’s dress. Cournoyer does not shy away from her subject and extremely graphic sexual imagery occurs throughout. Large, menacing penises bisect the screen, tongues probe exposed vaginas. Yet this is no sophomoric exploration of sexuality and few could find any kind of titillation or juvenile smirk-fodder in such exquisitely disturbing imagery. There is nothing coy, ambiguous or offensive in ‘The Hat’ but it is not an experience to enter into lightly.