Life inside the walls of Susanna's garden has become dangerous since Daniel accused her of infidelity with an outsider. Susanna rejects Daniel's claims and stands trial by the Elders, who will determine her fate and that of her unborn child. While the powers that be contemplate banishment, the stories conflict and collude as Susanna’s intentions are unravelled as pretense.
The story of Susanna goes back to the Bible in the Book of Daniel. It is written that Susanna, a virtuous young wife, while bathing in her private garden is spied upon by two older men. The men confront Susanna and tell her that she either has sex with them or they will accuse her of meeting a man in her garden. She refuses and so she is tried and sentenced to death until Daniel intervenes, questions the two men, proves their statements false and saves Susanna.
“Susanna and the Elders” is one of the few Biblical stories which speaks of a nude female and therefore artists throughout the 16th and 17th century of Europe often depicted the subject matter. But only one of those artists was a woman, Artemisia Gentileschi. Showing Susanna as vulnerable, frightened and trapped by the men who sexually exploit her, Artemisia took a sharp turn from the male artists who depicted Susanna as a seductress.
I aim to continue the long tradition of artists who have taken on the story of “Susanna and the Elders” and build narratively on what Gentileschi revealed through her feminine gaze. I am most interested in how the patriarchal hierarchy creates narratives which limit where women can go both mentally and physically. And furthermore how these imposed, unnatural structures create a maze in which women are forced into the act of pretense to achieve freedom. The film, “Susanna” is my interpretation of one of the oldest narratives which has defined our humanity. A narrative very much alive today in the way we all respond to the world.