Not Your Rescue Project:
Films from the Sex Workers Right Movement

This virtual film festival celebrates the fierce activism of sex workers as they fight to defend their health and rights, while addressing HIV/AIDS in the context of ongoing pandemics of COVID-19 and police brutality targetting Black lives, as well as the global uprisings and community care lifting up the most vulnerable among us. The switch to a virtual format allows us to include a wider range of films unbound by the limits of time that an in-person screening would present. Over the past couple of weeks, we strived to put together a program with films from all over the world. Some are recent, others are classics; all are timely and powerful.

 

The films are a tribute to our lives and struggles. Through performance, fiction, and documentaries from a variety of genres and countries these films cover topics ranging from pressing public health issues such as HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and police violence to discriminatory anti-trafficking crusades, pleasure, and porn. Whether it is by taking to the streets in protest, delivering vital services to our fellow workers, or reclaiming our stories and our lives, sex workers are transforming communities and making our voices heard. 

 

We honor sex workers who have passed during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting Lorena Borjas and her tireless fight for sex workers and the trans community in New York City, and sending love to all our communities worldwide who are hurting from losses of their own.

 

You are welcome to watch in whatever order inspires you but we encourage you to watch them in the order proposed here.  To view the videos in full-screen, click to watch directly on Youtube or Vimeo. We included links to the films available online in the hopes you might share them across your networks to promote the amazing work being done.

WATCH THE FILMS BELOW

¡Para las trabajadoras sexuales dejar de trabajar no es una opción!

directed by Ozlco Ozico Juan Pelos // 2020, Colombia // 3:43m

 

What’s a group of very talented and health concsious trans sex workers to do in the middle of a pandemic? Why make an amazing video to keep their community safe that is also part of a fundraising campaign of course! AlienHadas and the Red Comunitaria Trans in Colombia team up in this informative and fun video about sex work during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAqNpnlsLVU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/255992844505189/videos/1755608427908836/

Instagram: @redcomunitariatrans @alienhadas_.

 

Lorena Borjas tribute

 

Lorena Borjas (May 29, 1960 – March 30, 2020) was a Mexican-American transgender and immigrant rights activist, and known as the mother of the transgender Latinx community in Queens, NY. Her work on behalf of immigrant and transgender communities garnered recognition throughout New York City and the United States. These films highlight her life’s work, her fearlessness and the community she leaves behind. We love you Lorena! Rest in power. 

Website: https://www.lorenaborjas.com/

Putas conta o pneu - Manifesto contra novo preservativo interno 

Gravação e direção: José Miguel Nieto Olivar // 2019, Brazil // 9:27m

 

Manifesto contra o novo preservativo interno fornecido pelo Ministério da Saúde e pelo Departamento de IST, do HIV/AIDS e das Hepatites Virais. Falas no evento III Seminário Nacional de Prostitutas em São Luís do Maranhão, em Novembro 2019. 

 

Leaders of the Brazilian sex worker movement speak out against the most recent internal condom distributed by the STI, HIV/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Department/Brazilian Ministry of Health without consulting with the sex worker movement. Film recorded at the III National Prostitute’s Seminar in São Luis, Maranhão in November of 2019.

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpm7jOX-Hcc&feature=youtu.be 

Daspu Putas Pret a Porter

Dirigido por Valentina Monti // 2009, Brazil // 51:52m

 

Documentário que conta a história da criação da Daspu e sua repercussão nas passarelas de moda, com Gabriela Leite e três mulheres Davida Jane Eloy, Val e Maria. Davida é uma das primeiras organizações na luta por direitos das prostitutas e no combate ao estigma de puta. O filme mostra como essa passarela se transformou em uma plataforma na luta do movimento de prostitutas, feministas e LGBT+. 

 

This documentary tells the story of Daspu's creation and its repercussions in the fashion world, featuring Gabriela Leite and three women from Davida, Jane Eloy, Val and Maria. The film shows how the catwalk has become a platform for the struggles of the sex worker, feminist and LGBT+ movements. Davida is one of the first organizations in Brazil fighting for sex worker rights and against the whore stigma. 

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHrIMu2kA74. 

Instagram and Facebook: @daspubrasil

 

Erasure of Communities due to Gentrification

Directed by Monica Forrester // 2016, Canada // 7:27m

 

Over the course of 10 weeks, sex workers in the Toronto community met once a week to learn about filmmaking and produce their own short films, and thus Maggie's Digital Storytelling Project was born! The Erasure of Communities by Monica Forrester focuses on a familiar and widespread conundrum, gentrification. Please check out their website to watch the rest of these amazing films.

Website: https://sexwstories.wixsite.com/main/about

 

Second Wave Love

Directed by Veronica Sway // 2019, Canada // 12:17m

 

As an answer to the "Sex Doll Brothel" debacle of Toronto in 2018, Veronica Sway teamed up with local performers to bring you Second Wave Love. A cautionary story of love, loss and acceptance between "Dave the Client" and Chanel, the doll he falls in love with and attempts to "Pretty Woman"... Dave learns not all "happy endings" are equal. 

Film link: https://vimeo.com/390783623 

 

Last Rescue in Siam

Created by Empower Foundation’s Chiang Mai group // 2012, Thailand // 10:11m

Sex workers of Empower present the first film ever made by sex workers in Thailand. Shot as a black and white movie, “สาวน้อยผจญภัย - Last Rescue in Siam” pays homage to old silent films and explores how the agendas of the police, military, health care providers and radical feminists have a tangible and often detrimental effect on the lives of sex workers. Last Rescue in Siam depicts the politics of "raid and rescue" operations and rehabilitation centers and gives us a humorous take on serious subjects.

The film was shot within and around the Empower premises and the only collectively owned sex worker bar in Thailand, the Can Do Bar.

Website: http://www.empowerfoundation.org/sexy_en.php

Empower: Sex Worker Perspectives

Marianne Chargois // 2018, France // Giovanna Murillo Rincon 22:59m // Aying 26:41m

 

Portraits of sex workers in France, with heterogeneous trajectories crossing migration paths, trans identities, feminism, the fight against HIV, the fight against precariousness and against discriminations.

Whores on Film - excerpt 

Directed by Juliana Piccillo // 2020 USA // 1:25:00m

 

Since the dawn of cinema, sex workers have served as muses to movie-makers. From turn of the century white slavery pictures (The Girl who went Astray, 1900), to iconic rom-coms (Pretty Woman, 1990), to indie hits (Tangerine, 2015), hookers, hustlers, call girls, street walkers, strippers and dommes have been staples of the silver screen.

Cinematic sex workers are punchlines, cautionary tales or fantasy figures. They are brutalized, killed off, sometimes rescued and almost always represented as if no sex worker is in theater. 

Even in documentary films such as Born In Brothels (2004) or Tricked (2013), reality is distorted by filmmakers (almost always non-sex workers), who are determined to show trauma, violence and pathos rather than the resilience, successes, and thriving communities that are the norm for many sex workers.  

Whores on Film brings sex workers to the theater.

With equal parts historical overview, critique, and homage, Whores on Film lets real life dommes, escorts, porn stars and hustlers tell you which films they love and which they hate, which get it right and which miss the mark and, most importantly, how perpetuating stereotypes in media affects real peoples' lives.

Website: https://www.whoresonfilm.com/

Response from VAMP to Prostitute of the Gods

Created by Sangli Talkies, the video unit of SANGRAM / VAMP // 2010, India // 3:44m

 

This brief (3.5) minute clip by the Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP, Prostitutes' Collective Against Injustice), encapsulates a succinct response to 'Prostitutes of God', a sensationalized and factually flawed documentary produced by Sarah Harris for VBS TV, owned by Vice Magazine.. Countering the distorted perspective in the film, women from VAMP present their incisive views about sex work; religion and faith; livelihoods; issues of consent; ethics and cross-cultural sensitivities while making documentary films. 

 

The women in Sangli from VAMP recorded video responses to the film.  In the age of the internet, women in countries far away who used to be the objects of white people's gaze with no right of reply now have access to the representations that are made of them, and the technological means to answer back. A naive westerner may seize the headlines, but there's now scope for there to be a debate and to bring those who in the past would have remained voiceless victims into that debate to represent themselves.It is a great opportunity to put the record straight.  It's high time for documentarians and media organizations to stop misrepresenting and using sex work communities for their own gain.

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16OGyssJTvo 

Website: http://www.sangram.org/ 

 

VAMP May Day COVID PSA

Created by VAMP Collective // 2020, India  // 2:00m

 

Sex workers fight for the recognition of sex work as work in India; a May Day PSA for International Workers’ Day, 2020.

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cP6MKQGxEo

Website: http://www.sangram.org/ 

 

The Sex Work Academy Africa/l’Académie Africaine des Travailleurs du Sexe Africain

Created by SWAA // 2016 // 5:00m

 

The Sex Worker Academy Africa (SWAA) is a ground-breaking learning programme for community empowerment and capacity building, led by and for sex workers. The SWAA brings together national teams of sex workers from across Africa to develop organising skills, learn best practices, stimulate national sex worker movements, and strengthen the regional network, ASWA. The SWAA is an African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) initiative, implemented by Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA). The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) supports the concept of South-South learning and capacity building.

 

L’Académie africaine des travailleurs du sexe est un projet phare chapoté et délivré par des travailleurs du sexe, qui accorde une opportunité d’apprentissage, autonomisation communautaire et renforcement de capacité. Cet atelier de formation ressemble les équipes nationales des travailleurs du sexe en provenance des pays africains afin de renforcer et redynamiser le mouvement des travailleurs du sexe, apprendre et se partager les meilleurs pratiques, et renforcer le réseau régional, l’ASWA. L’académie est une initiative novatrice d’ASWA, et elle est mise en œuvre par l’Alliance Kenyane des Travailleurs du Sexe (KESWA Kenya Sex Workers Alliance). Le Réseau Mondial pour les projets sur le Travail du Sexe (Global Network of Sex Work Projects NSWP) appuie et est favorable à cette initiative d’apprentissage et renforcement de capacité sud-sud.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AfricaSexWork/

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-XN7-CVQpE 

 

Raising Red Umbrellas in Africa

Created by SWAA // 2016 // 20:03m

 

'Raising Red Umbrellas in Africa,' details the initial organising in the sex work community that led to the formation of the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA). ASWA is a pan African alliance of sex worker-led organisations that amplifies, promotes, and protects the rights of sex workers living and working in Africa. This documentary premiered at the Sex Worker Networking Zone, during the 21st International AIDS Conference, Durban, South Africa, July 18-22, 2016.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AfricaSexWork/ 

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHM90qI6pWs 

 

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Ogera Documentary end violence against sex workers

Created by OGERA Uganda // 2018, Uganda // 25:53m

 

Content warning: This film contains stories about violence against sex workers and graphic depictions of assault. 

 

Originally made for the Dec 17 day to Eliminate Violence Against Sex Workers, this film showcases powerful stories of resilience of migrant and refugee sex workers in Uganda. 

 

“We realized that words alone cannot convey the untold misery endured by sex workers in their different diversities. We need to develop an everlasting evidence based approach by bringing  together the voices of the victims with an intention  of inspiring others  to stand against  this illicit act of killing and brutalizing sex workers  who the  world has judged to be obscene. This film further intends to inspire fellow sex workers who are exposed to violations in line of duty either sexually, emotionally or physically to take a stand against this immoral act and to always seek justice.” - Batte Shamila, Executive Direction for OGERA 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OGERA-Uganda-526964637485268/ 

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fbddo1fPiUI 

 

Our Bodies Our Business

Edited & directed by Geraldine George // 1989, Canada // 24:22m

 

As part of ACT UP NYC’s Diva TV Project, in June 1989 filmmaker Catherine Gund videoed events and activism taking place during the Fifth International Conference on AIDS in Montreal.

Included in this footage was Gund’s interviews with sex workers’ rights activists Cheryl Overs, Carol Leigh (AKA the Scarlot Harlot), Valerie Scott, Tracey TIEF, and the late Danny Cockerline and Andrew Hunter.

In 2016, with Gund’s and the featured activists' permission and essential support from Triple-X Workers' Solidarity Association of B.C., filmmaker Geraldine George compiled the footage featuring sex workers rights activism into Our Bodies Our Business, Part One (OBOB1), a 24-min documentary.

OBOB1 illustrates how in the early years of the AIDS crisis, while facing a mounting death toll, the withholding of life saving drugs and systematic scapegoating of prostitutes, these pioneering activists pushed back with incredible intellect, performance and actions.

Activists Featured, In Order Of Appearance: Carol Leigh (Aka The Scarlot Harlot), Cheryl Overs, Danny Cockerline, Valerie Scott, Tracey Tief, Andrew Hunter

Camera And Interviews: Catherine Gund/Diva Tv

Additional Interviews: Gerri Wells

Postproduction Sound: Jackie Gallant

Subtitles: Jelena Vermilion

Editor/Director: Geraldine George

Special Thanks To: Carol Leigh (Aka The Scarlot Harlot), Cheryl Overs, Danny Cockerline, Valerie Scott, Tracey Tief, Andrew Hunter, Catherine Gund, Andrew Sorfleet, Jelena Vermillion, Triple-x Workers’ Solidarity Association Of British Columbia, The Elton John Foundation, And Dalla Lana School Of Public Health

 

Film link: http://www.sexworkerfest.com/videos/video_type/our-bodies-our-business/

 

FOSTA-SESTA fone calls

Created by PJ Starr // 2019, USA // 6:28m

 

Some straight talk on the phone lines from PJ Starr, the Incredible Edible Akynos and Monica Jones about the impact of new federal laws about online sex work. Audio recorded by speaker phone and animation by PJ Starr.

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owhGbkCvGIA

Akynos: https://www.akynos.com/ @akynos 

Monica Jones: theoutlawproject.org @tslove602 @theOutlawProjec1

PJ Starr: https://starr.is/bio @PJStarrFilms 

Sex Work Spoken

Directed by Abi Fleming // 2019, England // 9:22m 

 

This contributor-led short documentary tackles the stereotypes of sex workers presented to us in the mainstream media by giving a voice to the community. One of the contributors shares part of their story experiencing consent violation on a feminist porn set. 

To learn more about Rooster’s story visit: https://www.hellorooster.club/2019/08/28/my-journey-from-victim-to-activist-the-road-to-ethical-porn/

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcDTwKPOV3Y

 

Triple P

Created by Allie Ooops // 2018 // 7:51m

 

Content note: This is a pornography film that explores many of the themes core to the values of our film festival as well as the communities we represent. Viewers should consider that this screening includes explicit depiction of sex. 

 

A short glimpse behind the silk curtain takes the viewer behind the scenes to a day of creating porn with Allie Oops and Rooster. They show us all the endearing and erotic possibilities and importance of conversations around consent. 

Film link: https://www.allie-oops.com/work 

 

Rage Porno

Created by Addison // 2019, Canada // 12:39m

 

Content note: This is a pornography film that explores many of the themes core to the values of our film festival as well as the communities we represent. Viewers should consider that this screening includes explicit depiction of sex.

 

Often othered and cast in aggressive roles by content producers, trans performers are taking back their images! Unwilling to rely on studios to get it right, Addison seized the means of production and taught herself how to make her own clips. Her piece RAGE PORNO is a video zine exploration of masturbation with some of her thoughts about digital sex work on the internet. 

 

Black trans girls are the fucking future. 

Website: www.expensivehoe.com @expensive_hoe

 

Kitchen Talk: Reclaiming our Image

2017, Germany // 5:20m

 

Creators: Caritia, Lina Bembe, Bishop Black, Carmina, Max Disgrace, Jasco Viefhues, Mia Secreto, Kali Sudhra, Rebecca, Evie Snax, Rooster, Nina Scum & Rude Jude 

Instagram: @caritia @linabembe @slutsnax @kali.sudhra @maxdisgrace @mia_secreto @carmina_3000 @thebiszhopblaczkx @therooster_x @notyourgoodputxsolanas

 

A group of 12 Black, Indigenous and People of Color in porn gather to create self-directed content. During the shoot they ended up gathered in the kitchen crying, laughing and holding each other. Here is an excerpt of that conversation.

Film link: https://vimeo.com/282031777/4d687e7b03 

 

Subliminal Messages: Akynos dances to Lucille

Directed by the Incredible, Edible, Akynos with editing by PJ Starr // USA // 2:25m

 

Akynos, the founder of the Black Sex Worker Collective, hypnotizes with her dance and political content. Watch out! There is a very secret subliminal message included in this PSA film!

Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvNLyY99bEM

Website: https://www.akynos.com/ 

 

We want to thank all of the networks, organizations, and individuals that shared their filmes with us and encourage you to support their incredible work: the Black Sex Workers Collective in the USA, Daspu in Brazil, EMPOWER in Thailand, Maggie´s, Stella l’amie de Maimie, and Whorestories in Canada, New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, The Red Comunitaria Trans in Colombia, VAMP in India, and all of the incredible sex workers worldwide who contributed the work to our festival. 

 

Thank you for watching! Remember to donate to your local sex work organizations and local sex workers. Follow the links throughout the fest for individual sex workers and sex worker rights organizations that you can support. Always prioritize the lives, voices, and experiences of BIPOC, LGBTQIAA+, dis/abled, poor, and other oppressed peoples across our movements. Catch you next year!

 

Curators websites and social media is as follows in alphabetical order:

 

Monica Jones: twitter @tslove602

Bambi Katsura: https://www.undertheredumbrellafilm.com 

Laura Kane (no social media available)

Carol Leigh: Twitter @carol_leigh

Laura Murray: (www.akissforgabriela.com, www.oquevcnaove.com

AK Saini: Akaaksaini.com, @akaaksaini (IG)

PJ Starr: starr.is (website), @pjstarrfilms (Twitter) and @moralhighgroundproductions (IG) and FB https://www.facebook.com/pjstarrfilms and vimeo.com/pjstarr (Vimeo)

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