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article imageOp-Ed: Sex and Documentaries ― Hot Docs Toronto from April 26 to May 6

By Bryen Dunn     Apr 26, 2012 in Entertainment
Toronto - Hot Docs is the largest documentary film festival in North America, and this year there will be nearly 200 films screened from over 50 countries at various cinemas across the city, including the recently refurbished and renamed, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
As one of the hosts of the weekly Sex City radio program heard Tuesday evenings at 11pm on University of Toronto’s CIUT 89.5 FM, I’ve compiled a listing of those documentaries that have a focus around this topic. Check online for exact times and locations.
Meet the Fokkens
Louise and Martine Fokkens are 70-year-old identical twins. For 50 years they’ve worked as prostitutes in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. In their long and illustrious careers, they helped establish the first trade union for prostitutes, freed themselves from their pimps and ran their own brothel. Despite being inseparable, Louise has decided to retire from the business and is adjusting to a new life away from sex work. Martine carries on, still needing the money. A different type of clientele visits these local celebrities, as Martine allows us inside her booth to see her day-to-day working life and the men who inhabit it. Now these matriarchs find themselves facing an industry from the outside as it changes beyond recognition, the old set of values they were used to long gone. Meet the Fokkens is a peek behind the curtains of two ladies who have seen and done it all.
Sexy Baby
Welcome to Generation XXX, where sexy is everywhere from tween marketing to reality TV. A tight trio of stories gives the full picture of a society where labiaplasty passes for empowerment and online porn substitutes for sex ed. With easy access to anything and everything online, TMI plus technology is altering female sexual identity and self-esteem, especially in young girls. “I’m not going to change the world by being sexy,” 13-year-old scene-stealer Winnifred realizes, and yet she can’t resist posting compromising photos of herself on Facebook. As Winnifred tries on a sexy persona to see if it fits, former adult entertainer Nakita Kash sheds her alter ego and gets back to just being Nichole. Meanwhile, kindergarten teacher Laura preps for a surgery that many would consider genital mutilation but that she calls a confidence boost. Watch and decide for yourself what it’s like to be a girl in the world toda
The Final Member
Sigurdur Hjartarson has devoted four decades to curating the Icelandic Phallogical Museum. As its founder, he’s collected a penile specimen from every mammalian species except one—a human. With over 3 billion on earth there’s no shortage, but Hjartarson guides us on an incredible and comical journey to procure that elusive penis. As eccentric as Hjartarson’s character appears, the potential donors really raise the stakes. At 95, Icelander Páll Arason can think of no better way to enshrine his Casanova lifestyle than contributing his well-worn love gun. His stiff competition comes from Tom, a patriotic American who feels strongly that the stars and stripes should shine with his penis named Elmo. He’d even donate it while alive to ensure it’s the first. Avoiding cheap jokes and double entendres, The Final Member says much about the male psyche while attempting to answer the age old question, Does size really matter?
Who Cares?
Award-winning master of vérité cinema, Rosie Dransfeld enters the gritty and dangerous world of Edmonton’s sex trade workers to craft a powerful new film about women caught in a heartbreaking cycle of addiction, violence and prostitution. Courtney, known as the “prostitute from 107th Avenue,” struggles to stay clean; Shelly takes care of everyone but herself when she’s not on crystal meth; and Nancy, a sweet young girl, explains her bruises away as accidents. They drop into the Reno Pub to get out of the cold, shoot a game of pool and swap stories with the bartender about their lives and their dreams of getting straight. Meanwhile, in this post-Pickton era where the unthinkable is a gruesome reality, out on the streets women voluntarily provide DNA samples to an RCMP task force investigating the unsolved murders of women so their next of kin can be notified if the worst should happen.
Call Me Kuchu
Uganda, a country where over 40 per cent of its citizens are Roman Catholic, has become ground zero in an American evangelical war on the “homosexual agenda.” Enter David Kato, a veteran activist who’s been working tirelessly to repeal his country’s homophobic laws and liberate his fellow gay and transgendered citizens—called “kuchus”—from persecution. Kato’s mission is intensified when a new anti-homosexuality bill proposing death for HIV-positive gay men is introduced. Meanwhile, the country’s newspapers are outing kuchus under headlines such as “HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City.” Kato is one of the few to publicly denounce these actions, insisting “if we keep on hiding, they will say we are not here.” Call Me Kuchu documents the courageous efforts of Kato and his team to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The result is both a hard-won victory and a devastating loss for the international gay community
The Great Liberty
When Klas Ehnemark’s estranged father is brutally murdered by his lover in the German village of Grosserlach, he’s asked to testify at the trial. To paint a picture of his father, a man he hardly knew, he travels back in time. He prepares his court address visually by sifting through photographs, home movies, and audio diaries to reveal a free spirit who chose a different way of living. Klas breathes life back into his father by visiting his house, the scene of the crime. He films himself seeing things for the fist time in an eerie evidentiary style, and match-cuts his footage to his father’s own self-recorded videos, occupying the same space as him, if only for a fleeting moment. The Great Liberty searches for a state of mind, the social and sexual freedom his father had been seeking his whole life and found only in death.
Sven is a timid Swedish archeology student in his early twenties. Chillingly, he recalls the exact moment he realized he was different: As a 16-year-old, he read a newspaper account of a sexual assault on a child. It was then that he admitted to himself, “I am a pig like him.” In this brutally frank and haunting story, filmmakers Sebastian Meise and Thomas Reider spend years observing Sven as he sets boundaries for himself and struggles with this most taboo sexual disorder. His very public confession in this film and his genuine attempts to seek professional help enable us to better understand these very complex desires. More importantly, they are a sincere—yet certainly controversial— attempt on his part to ensure he controls his impulses and never harms a child. Can outing oneself mitigate the risk of sexually offending or result in persecution and social exile?
Theo Fleury: Playing With Fire
Theo Fleury achieved every boy’s fantasy of becoming a hockey superstar, raking in the millions, being cheered by countless fans and living the high life with a beautiful woman. Then he blew it all on booze, drugs, gambling and strippers, betraying his game, his colleagues and his family in a flame-out he couldn’t control. In 2009, he published a book that revealed his difficult childhood and years of sexual abuse by his coach, Graham James. Inspired by the book, the film takes the story further through hockey highlights and interviews with coaches, family, ex-friends, Olympic figure skater Jamie Salé and, most of all, with Theo as he hits the road to promote his book and faces the ghosts of his past. A compelling portrait of a great hockey player, a man who won it all, lost it all, faced his demons and is bringing his game up to a whole new level
Scarlet Road
Driven by a passion for freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, Australian sex worker Rachel Wotton specializes in a long overlooked clientele: people with disabilities. Believing that human touch and sexual intimacy can be vital therapy and help to build self-esteem, Wotton has become an advocate for both sex workers and people with disabilities, travelling to speak and work with groups in the UK, Denmark and Sweden. John, for example, who has lived with multiple sclerosis for 26 years and drives a chin-controlled wheelchair, has baffled doctors by regaining body movement thought lost forever. Training other sex workers to work with clients with disabilities, Wotton is a woman with huge dreams of breaking taboos. Hearing from her clients, we see beyond the limitations of disability into the need for intimacy we all share.
There is no Sexual Rapport
For more than 10 years a stationary camera has been capturing the “making of” moments on prolific French pornographer HPG’s sets. Culled from thousands of hours of footage, There Is No Sexual Rapport shares the mundane, monotonous and momentous episodes that typically remain on the cutting room floor: spontaneous sex between costars when the cameras are done rolling; a pep talk on male confidence; a woman’s glassy-eyed euphoria upon discovering her ability to ejaculate. HPG and his screen partners empower and titillate in videos inspired by real-life female sexual fantasies, and demystify the process of cheating fellatio, fake spanking and pounding versus penetration. This is a stunning mise en scène of orifices and accidental framing that exposes the delight (you might actually get turned on) and the tragedy (19-year-olds giving away so much of themselves for so little) involved in sex work.
Nestled inconspicuously in the East end of Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park neighbourhood is a historic bar called the Silver Platter. It’s been a staple in the Latino-LGBT community since 1963, serving as a safe space and anything-goes playground. In 2008, first-time director Wu Tsang, an L.A. performance artist, co-founded a popular weekly party called Wildness, bringing a new queer generation through the legendary doors and shining a contemporary spotlight on an old watering hole. The influx of new patrons effected some changes, for better or worse. Tsang’s documentary homage to the place so many called home magically brings the Silver Platter to life, conjuring her spirit and voice, guiding viewers through her colourful and tumultuous history and present. A space for parties and performance became a platform for a cross-generational, cross-cultural queer alliance. Wildness is a worthy and provocative tribute to community, creativity and dignity.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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