This weekend Dalston’s Rio Cinema hosts the third annual London Sex Worker Film Festival, a one day programme of feature films, shorts and a discussion focused on the sex work industry.
In our present ‘whorephobic society’, the screening of these films is important in redirecting a dialogue without stigma towards sex work and the individuals that pursue it. All films are created by current or past sex workers or with valued input from sex workers, creating an honest and distinctly personal representation of an industry that is considered a mistaken path with a ‘dirty’ future where the human experience is often ignored.
The festival is also the foundation for discussion on gender, race and migration. Sine Plambech’s Becky’s Journey follows a young Nigerian woman’s plight to pursue sex work in Europe. Her plan to trek through the Sahara Desert and board a boat for Italy opens up the wider issue of the European migrant crisis that is dominating current news. Soy Negra, Soy Marica, Soy Puta – I’m Black, I’m Queer and I’m a Whore is another film being showcased that deals with the issue of sex work beyond the West. It follows Diana Navarro, a sex worker and lawyer who is fighting for the rights of trans people and sex workers in Colombia. The title alone is evident of the hardship faced; to be black, queer and a ‘whore’ is to face constant challenges of social stigma.
Paul Frankl’s award winning Roxanne is also being screened, it follows an isolated transgender sex worker who takes in an abandoned young girl and is beautifully shot on 35mm through London’s sex world of Soho- the seediness of the red lights, the sex shop windows and the dark, sweaty nightclubs is offset by the warm domesticity of Roxanne’s apartment where she’s faced with the curiosity of a child as alone as she.
Red Umberella Diaries follows the personal stories of seven New York sex workers who spoke their tales on stage at Joe’s Pub. Its a feature film that frames the deep personal experiences felt and faced by workers of the sex industry. Just as personal though more physical is Sunshine McWane’s Diary of a Peep Show Girl, a five minute short shot by McWane on the job as a peep show girl.
The festival is an arresting account of working within an industry that’s considered immoral and degrading. It shows the importance of accepting and regulating sex work in society and ensuring there’s rights, respect and protection for the individuals within it.
The London Sex Worker Film Festival is on Sunday 9th November at Rio Cinema, Dalston London
Buy tickets to the festival here (or buy from Rio Cinema)
More information about the festival can be found here
(Stills from Frankl’s Roxanne)