A few words from the Sex worker Film festival organisers .....
Sunday 12 June 2011 was a day to remember for sex workers, sex worker’s rights’ activists, allies and anyone who believes in a fairer society that respects and values all of its members.
At the Rio Cinema in Dalston, East London, more than 410 people came to the First Ever London Sex Worker Film Festival ! The event featured around 4 hours of short movies and documentaries about the sex industry, most of them produced or written by sex workers themselves!
The Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence opened the day with an energetic blessing of the audience, and after a few words of welcoming by Heidi Hoefinger and Luca Darkholme, two of the organisers of the event, the programme of movies started.
Some of the highlights of the day were the screening of Every Ho I Know Say So, by Lusty Day which discusses the issues faced by sex workers and their partners; Nick Mai’s trilogy that focusses on migrant and undocumented sex workers and debunks some of the stereotypes linked to the issues of sex work and migration; Transfiction by Johannes Sjoberg, an ethno-fiction documentary that follows two transgender characters selling sexual services in Sao Paolo. Hands Off, by Winstan Whitter was produced to tell the fight for Hackney strippers to save their livelihood when the Hackney council introduced a Nil Policy to shut down all “sex establishments”.The Street in Red, directed by Clare Havell and Atieh Attarzadeh, which focuses on the moral hypocrisy that endanger the lives of women working in the streets, was an emotional homage to the murdered women in the UK, left unprotected by an inadequate legal system and social stigmatisation.
A panel of sex workers, strip tease artist, film makers and academics went on stage to answer questions from the audience. The Film festival ended with representatives of different sex workers' organisations inviting people to join us in campaigning for sex workers rights. Thierry Schaffauser, president of the GMB London Entertainment / Sex workers' branch made a passionate speech for the unionisation of sex workers, a movement that is increasingly important around the world. Cari Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes asked people to support their legal fight for Sheila Farmer, currently prosecuted for brothel keeping when her only crime was to want to work with other women for more safety. And a member of X:talk invited members of the audience to join the project, teaching English classes and fighting for the human rights of migrant sex workers.
In the evening, we all gathered at the local venue Dalston Superstore for an art exhibition by Jason Atomic, strip tease, pole dancing performances and music.
The day was very empowering for all the sex workers and allies present and strengthened our will and motivation to fight against criminalisation and stigmatisation. We also made many new friends and contacts and have hope that this kind of event will develop greater solidarity with sex workers’ organisations and individuals.
All the money raised throughout the day will help us cover expenses for the second edition of the Sex worker Open University which will offer workshops, debates and cultural events in different venues in London, 12th -16th of October 2011.
We are also working on holding a day of discussion and awareness around sex worker’s human rights, in the light of the upcoming Olympics, and offering ongoing workshops such as Self defence and Media training.
More details about the Film Festival, including press material, film details and panelists:
First ever London
Sex worker film festival
Because sex workers shouldn’t have to be dead to be on film.
69 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT SEX WORK
(Canada 2006) dir. Isabel Hosti, 5m51s,
Fun and sexy piece about a queer Canadian's favorite things about being a sex worker.
(UK 2011) dir Winstan Whitter. 22 mins
Hands Off' is a documentary feature about the fight between the strip club industry in Hackney, UK and the council's attempts to close and make these clubs illegal. With words from the venue owners, the local parish reverend and the dancers themselves, all express their worries and concerns about the looming council threat.
THE STREET IN RED
(UK 2011) dir Clare Havell and Atieh Attarzadeh, 5m,
What are the forces behind violence against Street Sex Workers? The Street in Red addresses rights of sex workers to public space, moral landscapes, and the hypocrisy of anti-sex work laws purporting to make streets safer.
NI COUPABLES, NI VICTIMES (Not Guilty, Not Victims)
(EUROPE 2006) dir ICRSE and sexyshock. 37m54s,
A polyphonic conversation gathering the words of some of the protagonists at the European Conference on Sex Work, Human Rights, Labour and Migration, Brussels (2005). They speak of the complexity and nuances of the sex industry and their lives: the challenges and the struggles of being a sex worker in Europe today, the repressive policies affecting their lives, and the strategies of resistance enabling them to do their work, build their desires and plan their futures.
EVERY HO I KNOW SAYS SO
(CANADA/ AUSTRALIA 2010) dir Beef Jerky and Lusty Day 9m24s,
A response to the total lack of accessible online resources for people looking for advice on how to be a good date or lover or partner to a sex worker. We want to support our lovers to continue unlearning the internalized stigma against sex workers, especially in intimate relationships. We think that sex workers themselves have valuable advice and direction to give to people who get into intimate relationships with us. This is the direct message we want to give to our lovers: "We hope that this video is useful to you in your journey to becoming a sex worker-positive and supportive lover and person in the community!!! By continuing to work on your attitudes about our work and educating yourself, you are showing us that you care. We love you!"
SEX WORKER OPEN UNIVERSITY
(UK 2009) dir Ellie Gurney, 10m44s,
Sex workers are routinely portrayed in the media as victims.At London’s first ever Sex Worker Open University, over two hundred sex workers and allies from the UK and abroad took part in workshops, discussions and actions. This film presents an alternative and empowered image of the sex worker.
Sex Work Trilogy by Nick Mai
FAST BITES (Comidas Rapidas) (15)
(UK 2010) dir. Nick Mai 5m.
The lives of young Moroccan and Romanian men selling sex in Seville, while looking for 'Europe'. The pace of the video mirrors that of the protagonists' lives, which unfold between the pressures exerted by social exclusion, sexualisation and the aspiration to a better life.
MOTHER EUROPE (15)
(UK 2010) dir. Nick Mai 6m.
About a young Tunisian man selling love to Western female tourists in order to build a new life for himself abroad.
NORMAL (trailer) (15)
(UK 2010) dir. Nick Mai 3m.
Trailer for the third film of the trilogy, NORMAL, based on the combined interviews with four migrants who are/were involved in the sex industry in Albania, Italy and the UK. The similarities and differences between their life trajectories are explored by focusing on their contradictory aspirations to lead a NORMAL life.
(Brazil 2007) dir Johannes Sjoberg, 57m
with Fabia Mirassos and Savana Meirelles
Transfiction explores 'ethnofiction' - an experimental ethnographic documentary film style in which the participants collaborate with the filmmaker to act out their own and others' life experiences in improvisations. The film focuses on identity and discrimination in the daily lives of transgendered Brazilians living in São Paulo. Fabia Mirassos projects her life through the role of Meg, a transsexual hairdresser confronting intolerance and re-living memories of abuse. Savana 'Bibi' Meirelles plays Zilda who makes her living as one of the many transgendered sex workers in São Paulo, as she struggles to find her way out of prostitution.
WORKING GIRL BLUES
(USA 2009) dir Damien Luxe, 4m, DVD
A sassy look at work: considering the pluses and minuses of many types of jobs + a blues song.
Damien Luxe is a multi-media performer and artist who has worked in DIY/indie print, web, theater and audio production for over 10 years.
CLARE HAVELL – Co-Director of THE STREET IN RED, currently completing her masters in Documentary Practice at Bristol University. Has had works shown at the Berlin Porn Festival, is involved in the Sex Worker Open University, and has published articles on migration, kink and sex work in Germany, the UK and New Zealand
ELLIE GURNEY - Director of SEX WORKER OPEN UNIVERSITY documentary, Ellie is an independent documentary filmmaker with a background in Social Anthropology. For her dissertation she studied the phenomena of separate public toilets for transgendered people in Brazil, Thailand and the UK and created a short accompanying film. Currently studying Masters in Social Work and is helping to run a dating agency for people with learning disabilities
JENNIFER RICHARDSEN- Features in HANDS OFF, has worked as a striptease artist and pole dancer in East London for over a decade and has been involved in various academic studies on striptease. She's also involved in documentary making, (see Starsuckers by Chris Atkins), graduated from Oxford University in 2004 where she studied English and Modern Languages, and has been teaching pole dancing and striptease for over 8 years
LUCA DARKHOLME - Sex worker and human rights activist, co-organiser of the Sex Worker Film Festival. Recently won the Pioneer of the Year Award at the Erotic Awards 2011 for co-founding the Sex Worker Open University in 2009
DR HEIDI HOEFINGER - Social researcher and lecturer within the University of London; sex worker rights activist, and co-organiser of the Sex Worker Open University 2011 edition and London's First Ever Sex Worker Film Festival
DR NICK MAI - Reader in Migration Studies at London Metropolitan University and Director of COMIDAS RAPIDAS, MOTHER EUROPE & NORMAL. Research includes negotiation of gender, sexuality and subjectivity through the migration process, with particular reference to international (female/male) sex work as a contested and ambivalent space of control and autonomy.
WINSTAN WHITTER - Director of HANDS OFF, Winstan started out making skateboard films in 1991, and has since shot music promos for artists such as Dizzee Rascal and The Streets, and worked on documentary’s for Channel 4 with artists such as Scissor Sisters, Lionel Ritchie, and Paul McCartney. He has recently been shooting music videos and documentaries in Ghana, West Africa, where he was born.
‘Tart Card’ Exhibit by Jason Atomic,
and words from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
For media enquiries, interviews and further information,
please email ronan.mcnern(at)gmail.com or call 07745 651634.