Se_x Work and We’re Here, We’re Queer - new sections at the 20. MDAG !

Every year, directors documenting reality are particularly drawn to specific topics and issues. New special sections are prepared by Millennium Docs Against Gravity programmers as a reflection of those changing trends. During the anniversary 20th MDAG edition, the programme will feature titles devoted to sex work and changes in the porn industry (Se_x Work section) and the life of LGBTQ+ people (We're Here, We're Queer section).

Se_x Work

The section devoted to porn and sex work will take a closer look at two revolutions. The first, in the 1970s, transformed social attitudes towards sex. During that time, Chelly Wilson, the queen of New York porn cinemas, was developing her huge business. Chelly was a one-of-a-kind character. Despite the great fortune she made by owning several erotic establishments from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, she never moved out of her apartment above the gay cinema called Adonis Theater that she ran. In one corner of her apartment there were bags of money, and in the middle, surrounded by past and future lovers, friends, but also family and grandchildren, lay the true queen of the Deuce (as the Times Square area is commonly called). The story of Chelly - a Greek woman who fled Europe before the outbreak of the war - reflects the most important changes of the second half of the 20th century - the rise of feminist thought, countercultures and the beginning of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. All of this can be seen in the film "Queen of the Deuce'' by Valerie Kontakos.

The second revolution concerns the changes taking place right before our eyes in the porn industry as well as porn distribution channels. In Josch Bongard's "Verified Couple", we meet a pair of "pornfluencers", as they call themselves. Like influencers, they lead lives that many envy, but they got there thanks to sex work. Andrea and Nico make a fortune making porn videos under the name Youngcouple9598. How did the idea to enter the porn industry come about? Nico was looking for a way to earn money quickly and… he found the idea while Googling the question. He decided to persuade his girlfriend Andrea, who trusted him as they both changed their lives to accommodate their new career. The couple currently lives in a villa in Cyprus, mainly due to taxes. While Nico is very happy with the life they lead and is focused on growing their business, Andreea doesn't always seem on board with some of the ideas as well as the endless pursuit of money.

While in the story of the pornfluencers we observe the growing popularity of self produced films which avoid the traditional and often exploitative studio system, in Patrick Muroni's "Fierce: A Porn Revolution" we meet a collective creating alternative porn. Mainstream porn industry seems to be immune to social change and continues to reproduce stereotypical views on the body and sexuality. A group of young women from Lausanne decided to  challenge this approach to portraying sex. They form an inclusive porn collective, presenting a new vision for desire. They group make their films between work at university or in a cheese shop, fully exploring the entire spectrum of sexual fantasies and testing their own limits and boundaries when it comes to receiving and giving pleasure. Is this the beginning of a real revolution that could lead to wider changes in the porn film industry?

We’re Here, We’re Queer

The We're Here, We're Queer section provides a glimpse into the lives of LGBTQ+ people in different parts of the world. In "Anhell69", Theo Montoya shows a city still living in the shadow of Pablo Escobar, torn apart by violence coming from various sides - drug cartels, brutal and homophobic police or religious fanatics. In this context, a group of queer young artists attempts to challenge reality around them and look for a safe space for themselves. But can a space like that exist under such conditions? Their lives exist only in the here and now, while people around them are constantly overdosing on drugs, commiting suicide or being killed. They on the other hand try to stick together, experimenting with notions of gender and sex and expressing their rebellion by constantly emphasizing their own status as social "outcasts".

The story of the emancipation of trans people is presented in the film "Casa Susanna'' by Sébastien Lifshitz. In the 1950s and 1960s, the law in the United States was extremely transphobic, and any kind of style of dress or self expression did not fit into the binary division of what is male and female was criminalized by the police. Where in such a world could one find shelter? Now in their 80s, trans women Diane and Kate return to the Casa Susanna, named in honor of its founder. A small, wooden cabin in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the last century, became a haven for a group of cross-dressers and trans people, where they could fulfill their greatest dream - be themselves. In this place, everyone could unleash their creative potential and show off their imagination, forgetting for a moment about the hostility they had to face every day. It is in places like Casa Susanna that the history of resistance began and the energy of rebellion accumulated, to be unleashed at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s during the famous events after the police raid on the Stonewall Inn. It was the trans community that was at the forefront of a movement that fundamentally changed the position and rights of LGBT+ people in many parts of the world in the 21st century.

“Sweetling” by Eva van Barneveld is a beautiful queer love story. Hetty and Jeanne had many wonderful years together. Unfortunately, 91-year-old Jeanne begins to suffer from dementia, which puts 76-year-old Hetty in a new role as the caretaker of the love of her life. Although they both have an amazing sense of humor and try to cherish every moment together, the moment comes when they have to decide whether they need outside help. Should their own little world, full of peace and warmth, be entered by someone else who could professionally take care of Jeanne? Despite their great connection, friction between the women begins to show, caused by increasingly difficult communication. Hetty has to partially start deciding on Jeanne's behalf how their daily lives will change. She finds solace in the memories of shared travels and happy moments, of which there were many in their past together. However, the film is not a gloomy depiction of leaving, but rather a celebration of true love, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The anniversary 20th edition of MDAG will take place on May 12-21, 2023 in cinemas across eight Polish cities - Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź, Bydgoszcz and Lublin as well as online - from May 23 to June 4 on the The principal patron of the festival is Bank Millennium (