BRAVURA filmmaking on a taboo subject, John Winter’s Black & White & Sex rips off the covers and thrusts us into the inner world of the sex worker – as played by eight women in the role of Angie. She has been ”hired” to respond to a series of probing questions from a filmmaker who is recording it all.
Shot, ironically, in black and white (because the subject is far from black and white), the film explores society’s often simplistic views on sex and the different framings we have for sexual activity.
Each of the eight actresses plays the same Angie – but a different character in her own right. This is the film’s clever device: instead of trying to overlay a single character on several women, Winter allows each of them their own individuality – just as sex workers are each individual human beings but identified under a single label. And usually a false name.
It takes a while for the metaphor to sink in – partly because we are so focused on the tantalizing, frank and confronting dialogue between subject and filmmaker.
But there is much more going on than symbolism and a frank exploration. The conversation between filmmaker and subject takes on a combative form as Angie challenges and confronts the filmmaker’s assumptions, misconceptions and false attitudes.
In the process, we are confronted by the general ignorance of male and female sexuality, by the hyper-hypocrisy of film censorship over sex versus violence, by the taboo of sex workers enjoying their work and by the stereotype of drug-addicted sex workers.
The performances are quite spectacular; each Angie is unique, authentic and riveting. This is a singular film that is destined to be recognized and acclaimed in the future.
STARRING KATHERINE HICKS,
ANYA BEYERSDORF, VALERIE BADER,
ROXANE WILSON, MICHELLE VERGARA MOORE, DINA PANOZZO, SASKIA BURMEISTER, MAIA THOMAS, MATTHEW HOLMES