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Exotic intrigue: ‘Mata Hari: The Naked Spy’ to premiere at Santa Fe Film Festival

Susan Wolf didn’t know one thing about Mata Hari.

But that all changed over the course of nearly four years.

Wolf, along with Machiel Amorison, worked diligently during that time in creating the film “Mata Hari: The Naked Spy.”

The film will have its world premiere at the Santa Fe Film Festival at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Center for Contemporary Arts.

“We’re just getting started,” Wolf says. “We finished the film in October. We’re very excited to get the film out there. The Santa Fe Film Festival is the first festival we’re going to be screening at. It’s going to be a great event.”

The film follows Mata Hari, who 100 years ago faced a firing squad as a convicted German spy.

Wolf says newly discovered documents cast doubt on her guilt and reveal startling truths about her life.

“She was an independent woman whose boldness and sexuality threatened the male establishment,” she says.

But there’s more to Mata Hari’s story.

She struggled as an abused wife and mother before escaping her husband and finding a way to survive on her own.

“She refused to be a victim,” Wolf says. “She then reinvented herself as an exotic dancer, courtesan and socialite.”

Wolf says the idea for the film came from Amorison.

“He lives in the Netherlands, and Mata Hari went to school with his relative,” she says. “He wanted to make a film about her. At the time, I knew nothing about her.”

That all changed.

For about a year, the pair did research and pored over documents.

But they couldn’t get access to the important documents.

“Once we got the support from the Fries Museum, we were able to have access to the historical photos,” she says. “That was one hurdle. Then we had to come up with a concept of how to bring her story to life. We wanted to bring her voice forward, and we decided to do that through re-enactment. We found this talented dancer, and she was willing to take on the task of choreographing the dance.”

Wolf says Mata Hari’s story is so complicated that she wrote a long script.

“I took it to the editor, and he just laughed,” she says. “We were able to pare it down to the most important elements.”

With the documentary ready to be screened for live audiences, Wolf is looking forward to seeing people learn as she did.

“A lot of us have heard at least her name,” she says. “Her story is one of empowerment and overcoming obstacles. It’s a very hot-button issue in today’s world. We’re excited to get more of her story out there, and it’s an opportunity for people to learn.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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