Producer, director, and screenwriter Monika Treut often makes films dealing with lesbianism and sadomasochistic fantasies in particular. She is considered an innovator in gay and lesbian cinema and is noted for making films that are challenging and yet sensitive. Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, she wrote her doctoral thesis on women's roles in the writings of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. She has worked as an avant-garde performance artist and has penned both books and articles. In addition, Treut has lectured throughout Europe. Before entering feature films in 1985 with Seduction: The Cruel Woman (co-directed with Elfi Mikesch), she made videos for several years. Even before her film debuted at the Berlin Film Festival, it generated a storm of controversy over its frank examination of female masochism. At the festival, the primarily male audience nearly launched a revolt against it. Many critics panned the film, but others, particularly those enamored of gay and lesbian cinema praised the film for its truth and stylishness. In addition to fictional works, Treut also makes short documentaries such as Dr. Paglia, an interview with Dr. Camille Paglia, and Max (1992), an interview with a female-to-male transsexual. Treut makes her films through her independent production company, Hyena Films.