Antonin Artaud’s concept of a theater of cruelty and his scarce writings on cinema have profoundly influenced film scholarship, especially in view of the large number of contemporary European films that employ images of extreme violence and utilize an aesthetics of visual unpleasure. But is the politics of the Artaudian aesthetic to be reduced to the reproduction of gory images of revolting violence? This article explores the politics of Artaudian cinema by going back to Artaud’s writings on the medium and comparing them to Brecht’s writings on film. The focus of this article is twofold: the first part goes back to Artaud’s writings and investigates the politics of the cinema of cruelty, while the second uses as case studies Jonas Mekas’s The Brig (1964) and Costas Zapas’s The Rebellion of Red Maria (2011). The first film is a screen adaptation of a performance renowned for reconciling the theater of cruelty with a political context, while the second is a contemporary paradigm of a film that draws on the Artaudian and Brechtian traditions with a view to responding to the political concerns of the present.