Hysterical Girl: Kate Novack’s Docu


Sigmund Freud produced only one major case history of a female patient, a teenage girl whose parents brought her to therapy after she came forward about being sexually assaulted. Kate Novack’s Hysterical Girl revisits this landmark treatment and considers the destructive ways that Freud’s theories continue to silence and shame survivors.
Hysterical Girl uses a feminist lens to give voice to “Dora,” the name Freud used at the turn of the 20th century to protect his subject’s identity. Reimagined as a girl today, Dora — whose real name was Ida Bauer — tells her version of events, alongside Freud’s own words. During the 11-week treatment, Freud asks her why she would keep seeing the man she said assaulted her? Was she out for revenge? Did she secretly want it? More than a century later, the questions that women face haven’t changed much.
Woven throughout the film are several decades of archival material — from the cinema of John Hughes and Roman Polanski to the Congressional testimonies of Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford. What emerges is a unique portrait of the lasting legacy of Freud’s Dora case and an urgent indictment of the insidious narratives that silence women.
Set to world-premiere at SXSW in 2020, Hysterical Girl was acquired by The New York Times Op-Docs, the short film arm of the paper’s opinion pages, and distributed theatrically by Grasshopper Film. It was nominated for Best Short of the year by the International Documentary Association