Violence and video go together like Wile E. Coyote and an Acme anvil. Whether you're watching a thriller or a rom-com, your odds of seeing a character being injured, assaulted, or killed are high and getting higher. A 2013 study found that instances of gun violence in popular PG-13 movies, over half of Hollywood’s top-grossing domestic releases in 2016, have more than tripled in recent decades.

Film maven Margarethe Baillou, 36, didn’t need those data to take issue with cruel imagery. “We’ve grown so accustomed to onscreen gruesomeness that we’ve become immune to it,” she says. “The indifference to violence as entertainment is dangerously toxic.”

Her fix: In 2007, after assisting on film projects for seven years, Baillou formed her own company, M.Y.R.A. (Movement, Youth, Resources, Art) Entertainment, which produces movies and TV shows that resolutely do not depict physical or verbal abuse, rape, or graphic accidents, not even angry face slaps. If that sounds humdrum, consider that Baillou executive produced last year’s stirring (and Oscar-winning) Call Me by Your Name.

timothee chalamet in call me by your name
Sony Pictures/ Sayombhu Mukdeeprom

Baillou and M.Y.R.A. COO Nicola Walter aren’t pretending human conflict doesn’t exist, nor do they expect other filmmakers to follow suit. They simply want their own projects to challenge how brutality is portrayed. Says Baillou, “There are so many visual metaphors that can suggest violence without showing it, like deserted toys or rotting landscapes. Some of Hitchcock’s movies just had a little music and shadow, and audiences were ready to faint.”


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