Sex, Labour and Smut – Montreal’s newest film & video festival

0 Posted by - October 2, 2009 - Blog, Performance, Screen

SEX LABOUR SMUT Film Festival poster

Montreal is known for its back-to-back festivals. In the fall and winter, these take the shape of many, many film, video and visual media fests. This is why you’re considered a little insane to try launching a new film/video festival around, well, right now. So call us insane. Cinema Politica and the Concordia Documentary Center have launched the small but voracious “SEX LABOUR SMUT Film and Video Festival,” running from October 16th to the 19th at the de Seve Cinema, Concordia University. All but one of the events are by donation, and all the works are destined to engage, enrage, enlighten and entertain audiences on the subjects of sexwork and pornography.

With classic hits like HOOKERS ON DAVIE, underground favourites like MADAME LAURAINE’S TRANSSEXUAL TOUCH, punchy shorts like CRUCIAL EJACULATION, or the moving and intimate DEATH OF A WHORE, there’s a lot to check out.

The event opens on October 16th with two documentaries (STALAGS and BAD GIRL) followed by a screening of selected vintage silent stag movies (read: porn before it was pneumatic, commercial or legal), accompanied by live music from Montreal musical sensation (and Yiddish rapper) SoCalled (Josh Doglin). These short American and French films are marvellous historical and cultural artifacts, unearthed and dusted off for this special evening. With the talented and curious SoCalled providing soundtrack, it’s not to be missed.

Below is the Curatorial Statement from the festival’s curators (disclaimer: I’m one of them). For more information on SEX LABOUR SMUT, visit: www.cinemapolitica.org/smutfestival.

SEX, LABOUR, SMUT is a selection of film and video, new and classic, Canadian and international, about sex. The nine programs of documentary and experimental/nonfiction we have selected focus on two of today’s most politicized, yet under-screened topics: sexwork and pornography. Connecting and contextualizing bodies, genders, identities, desires and difference, this anti-sexist, anti-phobic festival confronts morality and obscenity with performance, pleasure, and politics.

We have chosen 20 titles of various lengths that all meet at least two of our three criteria: SEX, LABOUR, SMUT. As programmers and fans of political cinema, we have all noticed a boom in documentaries that explore the pornography industry and prostitution. Yet many of these films perpetuate gendered, sexist, voyeuristic-male-hetero-fantasy representations of the confluence of sex and labour. To address this dearth, we are presenting this unique festival of older and recent titles that break free of these limited articulations. With these provocative films and videos we have brought together documentary, performance, experimental and educational works that deepen our understanding of sex, labour and smut – challenging our assumptions, tastes and desires about sexwork and pornography.

Sex permeates media in Canada as elsewhere. From cinema to print to the internet, there is no shortage of images, sounds and words describing the outline of a body of work that Canadians are repelled by, attracted to, despise and desire. Yet the stories told in the works in this festival are difficult to find, clinging to the margins, hidden from mainstream eyes and search engines. They bring to the forefront issues of difference, diversity, and humanity in sexwork and pornography. They challenge a passive, accepting engagement with mainstream and commercial images and narratives of sex and sexuality. As you meet the individuals in these films, whether in front of or behind the camera, we hope that your understanding and appreciation of SEX, LABOUR, SMUT will be deepened and broadened.

And we also hope you get turned on.

Signed, Shannon Harris, Svetla Turnin, Thomas Waugh and Ezra Winton.

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