Eight films taking a look into the world’s oldest profession

Income inequality, poverty, hope for a better life, lack of opportunities, or simple sexual curiosity – Walk This Way presents a list of European films that dissect the reasons behind the choice to join the world’s oldest profession:

Much Loved by Nabil Ayouch (Morocco, France) - 2015

Nabil Ayouch’s Much Loved is a controversial Moroccan film about four women making a living working as prostitutes. The sensible scenography reveals the ways in which the male gaze can reduce women to objects of desire and women’s struggle to overcome the hypocrisy and humiliation of Moroccan society, which takes advantage of and condemns them at the same time. The feature has had real life consequences: actress Loubna Abidar (nominated for the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015) was assaulted and forced to flee to France. Part of the Premium Films collection of Walk this Way, Much Loved will be available on VoD from May 16.

Bliss by Doris Dörrie (Germany) – 2012

Adapted from Ferdinand von Schirach’s short story, Bliss is a compelling love story between Irina (Alba Rohrwacher) and Kalle. They meet in Berlin, the city to which Irina has fled after her relatives were killed and she was raped in her war-torn country. In Berlin she works illegally as a prostitute, where her quest for happiness is constantly challenged. Part of the Unexpected Love Stories collection, Bliss will available on VoD from 27 June.

House of Tolerance by Bertrand Bonello (France) - 2011

Directed by Bertrand Bonello (known for his biopic Saint Laurent), House of Tolerance was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. The film, set in the early 20th century, looks at a stylish Parisian brothel, where the madam treats the women as her property, the expenses of which far exceed its earnings, landing the brothel deep in debt. The issues they face (pregnancy, addiction, physical abuse) are juxtaposed with the friendships and affection between these women, all sharing the same faith.

PARADISE: Love by Ulrich Seidl (Germany, France, Austria) - 2012

PARADISE: Love, part of a trilogy alongside PARADISE: Faith and PARADISE: Hope, sheds some light on the male prostitution trade, as European women known as "sugar mamas" seek out African boys, selling love to earn a living. Through the eyes of Teresa, a 50-year-old Austrian woman, who travels to Kenya in search of happiness and love, the audience is immersed in the horrifying realities of global inequality.

A Man’s Job by Aleksi Salmenperä (Finland) - 2007

A Man’s Job is another film exploring the rare topic of male prostitution and the reasons behind it. It tells the story of the desperate Juha, who, after just two hours of work, finds himself earning the same money he used to make in two days at his old job. This father of three small children begins to sell his body in order to sustain his family. A reflection on the male role in society and family responsibility, the film has received several nominations and awards at international festivals.

The immigrant by James Gray (United States, France) - 2013

Set in 1921, The Immigrant follows Ewa Cybulski (Marion Cotillard) and her sister Magda who sail from Poland to New York in hopes of finding a better life. When doctors discover that Magda is ill, the two women are separated and Ewa is left alone. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is forced into prostitution and her American dream becomes a fight for survival. The film was part of the Official Competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The Chosen Ones by David Pablos (France, Mexico) - 2015

Selected at the 2015 Cannes Film festival (Un Certain Regard), The Chosen Ones not only follows the story of a 14-year-old girl forced into prostitution, but also that of young boy being groomed by his father to enamour young girls, tricking them into prostitution, thus entangling him in a world that is incredibly difficult to get out of.

A Call Girl by Damjan Kozole (Slovenia) - 2009

A Call Girl is a modern tale of prostitution, revealing the reasons behind making such a choice in today’s society. The film follows Alexandra (Nina Ivanisin), a small town girl studying English in Ljubljana. She is ambitious and has big plans for her future. Of course, no one knows that prostitution is her secret source of income. Nina Ivanisin won the Best Actress Award at the 2009 Les Arcs European Film Festival. 

14 May 2016, by Cineuropa