Bliss deals with the subject of a physically disabled man’s sexual life and intimacy. Although significant, the issue was not there from the outset but emerged during the casting and script’s development process. My first motivation was to present love and trust in a non-conventional manner. Indeed, I aimed to show graphic sex as the expression of a character’s emotional adventure – an exciting self-imposed artistic challenge that came along with the Red Trilogy project.
As I was looking for some singular bodies, the casting process brought me to Thomas Winther Smith. I found Thomas and the other two non-actors in a Tantra Sex international network where I posted a calling. Thomas reacted positively to it but did not want to participate, as the subject has been a source of inner conflicts in his life. Thomas was born with many physical disabilities due to a new and still unnamed mutation of a Morquio-syndrome. Fortunately, without any brain damage, he has been facing the disease’s direct and indirect effects with his unique mindset and methods. He is a bright man who has started reading philosophers such as Nietzsche since the age of eleven and has recently got a degree as a therapist. Still, sexuality has been a hard topic to face.
As I had the feeling he was the right person for the leading role, I insisted that we met. We had a first long meeting, where he opened some of his well- hidden memories expecting to convince me about the possible reasons not to engage in the project. On the contrary, I got convinced that his persona not only suited but could also inform the character in many unthought dimensions. As he trusted me there and bought into the idea, I developed the script inspired by his confessions.
The result is this hybrid short story in which I blend his experiences, fears, and dreams in the making of a new and real event. I shot the entire film during one single day shooting in Thomas’ apartment. The three non-actors had never had sex together before that day. Living in Amsterdam, Gijs Starre was the first to engage and came to Aarhus exclusively for the project. Anette W. Hedegaard got convinced to participate only a few days before the shooting. The behind-the-scenes recordings and interviews reveal some more details about the process including the model’s reactions to the final film (available soon).
Femme touches on issues regarding the feminine beauty and the many restrictions often imposed on women’s bodies. My aim here is to promote a sensitive reflexion on the disciplines and moral values that, on one hand, shape gracious forms but on the other, impose constraints on women’s expression and freedom. These issues are played out in the film through fragments of a supposed rehearsal.
The short is a highly self-reflexive portrait informed by the leading actress’ life issues and with lines borrowed from her stage performances “Aline Alone” and “Aline Not Alone”, played in many countries.
Influenced by modern and contemporary dance visions and guided by a strong sense of personal freedom, the dancer Aline Sánchez has been rejecting the ballet discipline to free her erotic and dynamic body. This process has not been without pain, however, as her ballerina identity finds deep roots from the time of her childhood and adolescence in Cuba. Since her daughter was born, she has been facing a new challenge as a dancer and a mother. Having a child was a lively expression of her femininity but nevertheless a limitation of her personal and professional freedom. Another challenge is about what to transmit to her daughter. Which message does she want to pass on? Together with Bliss and Paradise, Femme composes the Red trilogy, in which I investigate the aesthetic and political powers of sexuality in short film narrative.
Taboos, disgust, and guilt inform the senior women’s sexual life in Western societies. Whereas the cultural and media productions usually see the woman as an erotic figure, this is rarely true for the senior lady. Young age, slim forms, and firm skin are often the attributes connected to eroticism and beauty, which is nevertheless a perverse pattern that excludes a variety of shapes, experiences, and pleasures from a highly eroticized culture. So I got keen on producing a unique and spicy humoristic picture of a senior woman experimenting with her sexuality in spite of her age.
I found inspiration in mainly two earlier references: the erotic Zodiac-films made in Denmark in the 1973-8 and the short film Vereda Tropical by the Brazilian Cinema Novo filmmaker Joaquim Pedro de Andrade (1977). The title also informs that the film is an adaptation of the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden. Differently from the Biblical tale, however, here the sneak pepper is the forbidden fruit the senior lady tastes in a late sign of her lost innocence. Instead of guilt or punishment, sexuality is a source of joy and liberation in my version of the Paradise.
The film has no dialogues and the talented nominated Danish jazz composer Signe Bisgaard signs the music. After contacting some actresses, I was fortunate that Merete Hegner bravely accepted to play the leading role. She appreciated the fact that the film approaches sexuality and age without guilt. The non-actor Alberto Lavin Isax plays the Latin-lover. He remarks that stories such as this happen every day in Cuba, but rarely in Denmark.