Pain, pansexuality and afrofuturism: 3 films about the body

Diving into body politics, we highlight three films from the BFI London Film Festival’s Experimenta programme.

4 October 2018

By Qila Gill

Slumberparty 2018

Slumberparty 2018 (2018)

In 1984, The Positive Pornographers, a mostly queer collective based in Toronto, made a film. Before intersectional feminism became theoretical jargon, the collective embodied its meaning with a full-blown liberation of pansexual choreography. Appropriately, they called their film Slumberparty.

In 2018, real-life partners and artists Hazel Meyer and Cait McKinney, driven by their research into how queer porn is archived, explored ways of ethically restoring Slumberparty – which was once thought lost and only found again in 2016. The pair’s contemporary version of this non-binary piece retells a historical landmark of Toronto’s queer porn scene – directly intervening with Toronto’s feminist porn debate.

What’s enticing about the work lies in the descriptive language of visualising the on-screen sexual interactions. It is tender, compassionate and adequately steers clear of being pornographic, thereby offering the audience a glance into a playful and pleasurable sexual intimacy.

The Startled Faction

The Startled Faction (2018)

As part of the Performance Anxiety programme, Catherine Sullivan’s The Startled Faction, subtitled ‘sensitive training’, examines muscle panic and unnerving pain caused from uncompensated work outside the job description.

A group of dancers rehearse symptoms of, and methods for avoiding, ambiguous labour with varying degrees of aptitude and motivation, orchestrating a plethora of movements.

Co-produced with Chicago Dancemakers Forum, The Startled Faction sees performers unshyly reference tangible concerns relating to animosity of racial, class and gender inequality – right on down to the nitty gritty of it all.

Mahogany Too

Mahogany Too (2018)

Shedding light into afrofuturism through stylised visuals and fashion, Mahogany Too sees the elegant and beautiful Nigerian actor and model Esosa E revitalise Diana Ross’s iconic portrayal of Tracy Chambers in the cult classic, Mahogany (1975).

A serendipitous encounter in Ghana and mutual obsession with Ross’s style led to Essoa’s collaboration with director Akosua Adoma Owusu. Best known for her role in hit US web series An African City, the former recreates Tracy’s qualities through fashion, modelling and styling, while director Akosua Adoma Owusu’s analogue filmmaking creates a vintage tone that emphasises the essences of the character.

The dream-like music charms us as we follow the contemporary Tracy’s wander through town.

BFI Player logo

Discover award-winning independent British and international cinema

Free for 14 days, then £4.99/month or £49/year.

Try for free

Other things to explore