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Help me finish my short film, "How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body!"
Help me finish my short film, "How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body!"
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48 backers pledged $1,038 to help bring this project to life.


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"How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body" is a short fantastical biography of the infamous dancer who's name is now synonymous with "femme fatale." Now two years in the making, the incredibly labor intensive project was shot entirely in front of green screen, the actors chroma-keyed and placed in front of original backgrounds collaged from archival photographs, 16 and 8mm footage, hand-made overhead projections, xerox transfers, manipulated found objects, etc. With nearly 75% of the film completed, my apartment was recently burglarized and my computer housing all of my editing and compositing software was stolen, not to mention hours of work that now must be recreated.
This Kickstarter project is launched in hopes of raising funds to supplement the costs of buying a new computer and software so I can swiftly get back on track to finishing my labor of love- not only for myself, but for my extraordinarily talented collaborators. The film features 4 original songs composed by Julian Lynch ( a soon-to-be score by Lawrence Bonk ( and Jesse Novak, and fabulous costumes hand-crafted by Vanessa Riegel.

“How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body” is an imaginary biography of a very real
historical figure: the Dutch exotic dancer who duped turn of the century Europeans with a thirst for Orientalism into believing she was a Javanese Priestess; the famous courtesan; and the alleged spy executed by firing squad for espionage in World War I. (

The most drastic point of departure from reality is inspired by the history and rumors surrounding her bodily remains. After her execution, Mata Hari's corpse was decapitated, her body used for medical study, and her head embalmed and housed in the Museum of Anatomy in Paris- an institution that displayed the heads of hundreds of criminals executed by firing squad or guillotine. In 2000, the faculty discovered her head had disappeared, causing speculation that a former lover took it when the museum relocated in 1954.

In my version of Mata Hari's life, she comes to the stage already dismembered- an exotic dancer that incorporates removing her head into her striptease with the same grace she takes off her veils. It is this freakish physiognomy that captures the fascination of the Belle Époque Parisians, making her an overnight success. Yet, this same oddity entangles Mata Hari in a web of conflict: her head and body compete for whom most can titillate the audience; she attracts the unhealthy obsession of an army captain in charge of French counterespionage; and with the outbreak of World War I, who can possibly trust a woman with such potential for double-crossing?


Amy Ruhl is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker with a specific interest in lending visual representation to female sexuality and literalizing the problems posed by feminist film theory inside a narrative framework. "How Mata Hari Lost Her Head..." will be her first short film and second collaboration with musician Julian Lynch. In the fall of 2009, Ruhl directed a video for Lynch's song, "Seed." Widely circulated on Internet music publications, the video earned praise for matching Lynch's lo-fi warbling melodies with equally hypnotic, hand-crafted visuals.

See more videos and backgrounds of How Mata Amy Ruhl's vimeo page:

See Amy Ruhl's music video for Julian Lynch's song "Seed" and read an interview at Slow Decade:

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Funding period

- (30 days)