Private Project

Delta of Venus

Three chapters, three women, three worlds, three erotic scenes linked by their subversion of timeless myths and fairy tales.

The experimental film as video essay.

Fantasy re-coded.

  • Nancy Cao
  • Nancy Cao
  • Nancy Cao
  • Yasmin Langlois
    Key Cast
    "Marianne, The Dominatrix"
  • Greta Oliver
    Key Cast
    "Lilith, The Medieval Bard, Sleeping Beauty"
  • Haruko Cerin
    Key Cast
  • Mark Desiatov
    Director of Photography
  • Mahalia Hewitt
    Production Designer
  • Tony Murtagh
    Sound Mixer
  • Daniel Bunting
  • Marie Gatt
  • Gabrielle Ross
  • Kali Bateman
  • Benjamin Paul Russell
    Gaffer/Key Grip/Dolly Grip
  • Kendra Crisp
    Set Dresser
  • Kristi Gilligan
    Camera Operator
  • Kelvin Chan
    Steadicam Operator
  • Syaheed Ismail
    1st AC
  • Alixana McFarlane
    1st AD
  • Zoe Ratnma
    Production Runner
  • Hillary Chua
    Art Department Runner
  • Eliza Chambers
    Standby Props
  • Robyn Hillyer
    Assistant Props
  • Zed McMahon
    BTS Photographer
  • Taylor Brent
    Lighting Assistant/Grip
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short, Other
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 8, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Mandarin Chinese
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Brisbane International Film Festival
    October 23, 2021
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Paris Lift-Off Film Festival
    November 4, 2021
    European Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Film Shortage
    November 12, 2021
    Daily Short Picks
  • Melbourne Women in Film Festival
    February 10, 2022
    Melbourne Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Nancy Cao

Nancy Cao is an Australian writer, poet and film director. Her films often combine experimental storytelling with a baroque sensibility that is a trademark of her work. Some reoccurring traits in her work are poetic visuals, feminist, LGBTQ+ themes and cultural interrogations. She is also an Emerging Full Member of the Australian Director's Guild.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

The concept for ‘Delta of Venus’ came about when I became interested in constructing a film like a poem: based on a set of ideas instead of a set of plots. In particular, I wanted to make a film about the troubling legacy of fairytales, as well as the artificiality of desire itself in a culture that champions aesthetics but ignores its substance. The decision to borrow Anais Nin's title was an intuitive one. What was really on my mind was Shuji Terayama and his purple sunsets. What I really wanted to do was to create an atmosphere in the film with the same spontaneity that puts words into a poet’s mouth.

“Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all.” If we are careful enough to look past the frivolous exterior of surrealism, there’s a lesson to be learned here, that is, if one picks up where the surrealists have renounced and muster the courage to reach beyond the fog of semiotics.

To quote Jameson: “New art forms seek to endow the individual subject with some new heightened sense of place in the new globalized system…The new political act (if it is possible at all ) will have to hold the truth of post-modernism that is to say, to its object – the world space of multinational capital – at the same time which it achieves a breakthrough to some, as yet, an unimaginable new mode of representing it, in which we may again begin to grasp our positions as individual and collective subjects and regain a capacity to act and struggle which is presently neutralized by…some social confusion.”

One cannot help but imagine Jameson’s solution of disruptive assimilation as a direct response to Sontag’s 1996 decry on ‘The Decay of Cinema’, for which she wrote:
“While the point of a great film is now, more than ever, to be a one-of-a-kind achievement, the commercial cinema has settled for a policy of bloated, derivative filmmaking, a brazen combinatory or recombinatory art, in the hope of reproducing past successes…The love that cinema inspired, however, was special. It was born of the conviction that cinema was an art unlike any other: quintessentially modern; distinctively accessible; poetic and mysterious and erotic and moral -- all at the same time.”

Original films will always exist – as long as filmmakers are willing to make them and reinvent the medium. More than ever, there is an urgent need for a minor lexicon within the language of mainstream semiotics (note: this set of ‘minor lexicon’ mustn’t be confounded with the ‘personal’ set of signs and symbols mentioned earlier. A minor lexicon is still made up of the vocabularies used by the mainstream, but its alternative usage has the potential to continuously broaden). I believe this is where the power of queer cinema lies - we have been inventing a minor lexicon for ourselves since the dawn of the medium.

At first glance, in a free-market society where human sexuality is deemed sacred to appease the ever-diversifying kinks of its consumer, the subject matter of eroticism no doubt belongs inside the domain of the personal and is therefore made untouchable (at least according to western standards). However, it is precisely because of the consecration of sexuality as something personal - via its commodification - that it becomes all the more rapturous when it’s finally revealed to be just as impersonal as a Vogue reading fashionista’s yearning for the latest handbag.

More than anything else, ‘Delta of Venus’ should leave the viewer feeling unsure as to what to make of the scenes they have just witnessed. Sure, there’s certainly an aesthetic appeal to the film's kaleidoscopic visuals. But the end goal is not to recombine but to deterritorialize.

“Is it authentic? Is it not authentic? Does it even matter? Why does it even matter when everything is inspired by something…does that mean I’m inauthentic too? If this is inauthentic, why is it that I still saw it through? This is a film about erotic fantasies, but why does it remind me of a perfume ad?” I’d consider the film a success if the audience starts asking those questions.