The subject of the 2017 Hot Docs Focus On retrospective, Maya Gallus is a sophisticated, innovative feminist filmmaker. Since her sensational debut feature Elizabeth Smart: On the Side of the Angels premiered at TIFF (then called the Festival of Festivals) in 1991, she has created an exciting and provocative body of work, which includes Girl Inside (2007), Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of Service (2010), The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche (2012) and Derby Crazy Love (2013). POV’s Barri Cohen provided a cover story on Gallus and her partner Justine Pimlott in our Spring 2013 issue, which you can read online.
In order to celebrate Gallus’ retrospective, Erotica: A Journey Into Female Sexuality seems to us to be the best choice for this Freeze Frame. It’s the 20th anniversary of Erotica this year (the film premiered at TIFF in 1997) and, as Hot Doc’s curator Lynne Fernie points out, the discussion around female sexuality and erotica vs. pornography “remains provocative and relevant today. It is a must-see for those trying to portray sexuality through the lenses of women’s own desires.”
Erotica features the final interview with a 90-year-old Pauline Réage, a.k.a. Dominique Aury, author of “Story of O,” which is arguably the most important erotic novel of all time. “Before 50 Shades of Grey, there was Story of O,” Gallus told POV. She is still pleased with Erotica, which also featured “ecosexual” activist and artist Annie Sprinkle, photographer Bettina Rheims, filmmaker Candida Royalle and dominatrix and writer Catherine Robbe-Grillet, a.k.a. Jean de Berg, wife of the late Alain Robbe-Grillet and author of the sexually subversive novella L’image, who is, at 86, still working it with the whip.
Gallus also told POV: “Love stories and literature are at the heart of my most personal films.” Certainly, that’s true of Erotica, a film that is as beautiful today as it was shocking 20 years ago.
Find films and tickets for the Focus On programme here.