Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Hot Docs 09: Aspects of Love

There's one more screening of ROUGH AUNTIES on Wednesday, May 6th, 11am at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St.). I'm still too full of emotion to write about these women and the sexually abused children that they help. See the movie if you can, if not visit the film's website to learn more about these women and their dedication to showing children love. Website: http://roughaunties.com/. Also visit the Bobbi Bear organization at http://www.bobbibear.org.za/

Love shines through every frame of this film, and I'm glad my day ended with this screening. The aunties have had to become "rough" in order to stand up for the children, but they are also there to support each other when difficult times impact the lives of one of their circle. Like her work in Sisters in Law, director, Kim Longinotto succeeds in bringing to the screen stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things.

My day began with a screening of Orgasm Inc, a documentary that explores the business of disease. The rise of "female sexual dysfunction" (FSD) it turns out, shares a link with marketing and research by the pharmaceutical industry. No one seems to be able to define exactly what the term FSD means yet billion dollar companies are in a race to develop a cure for it. When and how did companies obtain the power of diagnosing illness? "Sex for our pleasure not their profit" is the campaign slogan of New View, an organization trying to bring to light the complexities of human sexuality and the fact there is more involved than just the genitals. Even the drug companies have to admit that the placebos (porn, sex toys etc) used were almost as effective as their test drugs, and without any side effects. One such drug, a testosterone patch that also included estrogen had to be administered over a period of time. Is it worth having one more orgasm a week to increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer when a sex toy or someone watching the kids would do the same thing? The documentary also revealed that the popular Berman sisters (seen on Oprah and other talk shows) were paid by such companies, and that Dr. Laura Berman still recommends Viagra for women even though the drug company that was doing research on its effectiveness in women called off the study.

My Greatest Escape is the story of Michel Vaujour, a country boy whose teenage escapades landed him in jail where he became very well schooled in the art of robbery. Despite his many escapes, Vaujour spent 27 years in jail, 17 of which were in solitary confinement. The story drags a bit as we listen to Vaujour recount his life, but you can't help but hang on to every word. Imagine someone decides to tell you the story of how he ended up in jail, how he daringly escaped many times (by helicopter even), was shot in the head, and had two significant romances. There are times you wish he would hurry up with his tale, but you don't dare say that because you don't want to miss any details of the wild, fantastic and true story. Watching the film I couldn't help but cast Vincent Cassel as Vaujour (Johnny Halliday may be too old). Now that this doc has been released I'm sure Hollywood will be lining up to make this action flick, especially since the real protagonist is still alive. Maybe Soderbergh will direct.

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