What the Movies Do to Us: A Real Young Girl (18*)
20 April 2017
And so to the vexed question of what impact movies have – or may have – on the public’s moral character.
In particular, sex in film is deemed worthy of censorship on the basis of purported harm. For many years, the censors’ crude equation of sex with obscenity left a whole arena of human experience under-explored in film. A breakthrough came with Last Tango in Paris: a film that actually took sex, its impact and significance in our relationships and general experience, as its subject.
Nonetheless, in the years since that film there remains one subject about which the movies have been unusually coy: female sexual pleasure. Is it only ignored, or are the movies actually afraid to present us with female sexual agency… because what would happen then?
A Real Young Girl is one of only a small clutch of films showing teenage female sexuality from the inside, and is notable for its audacious approach to its subject – in terms of explicit imagery, but also in daring to depict aspects of the heroine’s sexuality that are not comfortably titillating. Completed in 1976, it was banned in France for over 25 years and only released onto the festival circuit in 2000.
France 1976 Catherine Breillat 93 min 35mm presentation
Begun back when mainstream movies allowed the occasional glimpse of breast but certainly no pubic hair, this pioneering experimental short explicitly shows the director and her partner making love. Conceived as a celebration of everyday sex, it consists of collaged sequences, some hand-painted and etched. “It’s different from any pornographic work you’ve ever seen… and there’s no objectification of fetishization of the woman.” (Carolee Schneemann)
US 1964-1967 Dir Carolee Schneemann 25 min 16mm presentation
A sensual, evocative collage of over 100 images selected for their representation of the sense of touch, this experimental short broke new ground in its exploration of lesbian identity and desire. In the words of the director, “I wanted to make a lesbian commercial.”
US 1974 Dir Barbara Hammer 4 min 16mm presentation
Total programme run time 122 min