SWOU Video Library
SWOU has been using films and documentaries to help foster discussions about sex workers rights. We always appreciate receiving new films, especially when made by sex workers themselves.
We are happy to help your organisation set up its festival by providing you with advice on films, contact of film makers and, when possible, a copy of the films of your choice.
The Honeybringer (2012) dir. Clare Havell & Vincent Lee, produced by The Sex Worker Open University. 32m.
As UN policymakers and politicians meet in Washington for the AIDS conference, sex workers gather in Kolkata India for an alternative summit, the Sex Worker Freedom Festival. Denied entry to the conference in the USA because of their work, sex workers from Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe send a clear message; and it is not victimhood, but power that speaks, to reveal what lies behind the stigmatisation and oppressions of sex workers.
Putes en Luttes (Whores Fight Back) dir. STRASS (French Union of Sex Workers) and SWOU: 22m.
A short film documenting the 2013 Annual Sex Workers gathering in Paris, France, and the following demonstration against criminalisation of clients and sex workers' rights!
Normal directed by Nic Mai 48m.
NORMAL is made of the combined interviews with four young migrants, who are impersonated by actors. The similarities and differences between the characters' life trajectories are explored by focusing on their contradictory aspirations to lead a NORMAL life. The film is also a reflection on the inherently fictional nature of any narration of the self, particularly when this happens in relation to experiences which are stigmatized as non-NORMAL. The four characters explain how they came to see their involvement in the sex industry as NORMAL and how their notion of normality evolved with their life experiences. At the same time, their life trajectories do not conform to the victim/villain stereotypical opposition which dominates current debates about sex work.
Sex Worker Open University 2009 by Ellie Gurney - 7 mins - UK - DVD
At London’s first ever Sex Worker Open University over two hundred sex workers, sex workers’ rights activists, and allies from the UK and abroad took part in workshops, discussions, actions and art exhibits. Documenting these events, this film presents an alternative and empowered image of the sex worker.
Sex Worker Open University 2011 by Stoo Ireson - 14 mins - UK - DVD
Bigger and stronger, the second edition of SWOU brough together activists from a dozen different countries and included a Sex Worker Art Show, demonstrations and many workshops!
Primitive London - 87 mins - UK
English-language with optional English subtitles.
The Street In Red by Clare Havell - 5 mins - UK
Short documentary on the subject of street based sex workers in UK
Ni Coupables, Ni Victimes - 2005 - 45mins - France
Documentary on Brussels Conference on Sex Work, Labour and Migration that led to the Manifesto for Sex Workers' Rights in Europe.
A Day In Her Life - 23 mins
Documentary, English and Spanish, English subtitles (Netherlands). Films made by (migrant) sex workers with the support of Voices of Women in Media.
Under The Red Umbrella - 2009 - 15 minutes
Documentary, German and English (UK/Berlin) by Julia Ostertag, a visually and politically challenging portrait of an independent sex worker. A cliché-breaking declaration of sex work as a creative outlet and a chance for individual autonomy
(Many short films are available on here from Cambodia, Thailand and more...)
Last Rescue in Siam - Thailand
Short black and white satire on the issues of raids and anti-trafficking.
Every Ho I Know Says So - 10 mins - English -Australia
Sex workers speak about intimacy and relationships.
La Putain de Compil - 26 short films in French/English (Canada)
Happy Endings - 80 mins - English and some Korean - US
This documentary chronicles the lives of the women in massage parlours in Rhode Island, during a battle in the state legislature to make prostitution illegal.
All That Sheltering Emptiness by Gina Carducci and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore- 7mins - English - US
This is a meditation on elevators, hotel lobbies, hundred dollar bills, the bathroom, a cab, chandeliers, cocktails, the receptionist, arousal, and other routines in the life of a New York City callboy.
69 Things I Love About Sex Work - 6 mins - English - Canada
Prostitution Free Zone - 14 mins - documentary -US
In 2006 the city council of Washington DC passed new laws that allowed the Police Chief to call any part of the city a 'prostitution free zone' for up to 10 days. This short documentary describes how sex workers, transgenders and other communities have organized to oppose the new policy that violates basic civil and human rights. Watch here.
Live Nude Girls Unite by Julia Query - 75 mins - documentary - English - US
Documentary n the fight of exotic dancers at Lusty Lady for thei labour rights.
Working Girl Bluesby Aron D'Lux - 2009 - 4 mins - English - US
An experimental video considering the pluses and minuses of some jobs + a blues song.
Central and South Americas/Caribbean:
Patrulla Legal - 60 mins - Documentary - Spanish with English subtitles (Ecuador).
Transfiction, 57 minutes, Brazilian Portuguese with English subtitles, 2007 (UK/Brazil) by Johannes Sjöberg. 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
A kiss for Gabriela, 2012, by Laura Rebecca Murray (USA/Brazil) Gabriela Leite is the first known sex worker to run for Brazilian Congress. "A Kiss for Gabriela" tells the story of her 2010 campaign as she faces 822 opponents and challenges the male dominated political system to see if a sex worker activist can beat the odds and win the election.
Gabriela founded the Brazilian Prostitutes Network in 1987, authored two autobiographies, and gained status as a cultural icon after founding a clothing line to promote sex worker rights. Despite all of her publicity, this film is the first documentary that enters into the private realm of her life. Combining an observational style with unrestricted access, the film explores what it means to be a prostitute, what it means to be a wife, and most importantly, what it means for a woman that represents one of the most socially marginalized populations in the world to run for office. www.akissforgabriela.com
Visit the SANGRAM website for a series of videos realised by Indian sex workers from VAMP and SANGRAM!
We Are Foot Soldiers - 26 mins - Documentary (India) by Debolina Dutta and Oishik Sircar.
In 2005, children of sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi red light district came together to form their own organisation, Amra Padatik (Foot Soldiers), drawing inspiration from the work that their mothers have been doing to demand their right to sex work as work. The Film will journey through the lives of six Amra Padatik members whose entangled realities do not paint a picture of helplessness but of political assertiveness and social consciousness. Stereotypical images of their suffering are something that many of them identify with, yet, far from despair and fear, in the face of adversity, their responses are far more complex, hopeful and strong
Save us from our saviors! 10 mn, (India) by Katrina Mansoor. A short video on the work of VAMP collective and the problems created by the rescue industry.
Common Life, 14 minutes, documentary (Turkey) Co-produced & Directed by Vincent Lee and Clare Havell. Filmed in Istanbul during Trans* Pride, Common Life is a documentary portrayal of the situation of Sex Workers in Turkey and the struggle for Unionisation and Civil Rights. View here