Women in Film and Giornate degli Autori present Mondo Sexy
Women in Film, the association of female film professionals working in film, television and the media in Italy, part of an international network that promotes and supports the activity of women in the sector, has decided to single out the documentary by Mario Sesti, Mondo Sexy, premiering at the Venice Film Festival on September 3, at Giornate degli Autori.
"With its unique look and feel, largely thanks to its editing and the script that accompanies the images," says Antonietta De Lillo, a filmmaker on the executive board of Women in Film, TV & Media Italia, "this film explores a now-defunct genre that thrived at the dawn of the commodification of women's bodies on the big screen. In doing so it manages to train an inverted spyglass on the present, forcing us to rethink the prevailing models that govern our imagination and urging us to reflect on the manipulation of the human body today, especially women's bodies, in contrast to the essential humanity, with all its flaws, of the bodies revealed to us in Mondo Sexy."
"I think that the support of Women in Film in promoting this film is especially important in order to re-evaluate Italian society and its endemic male chauvinism in the Sixties and even after. The selection of the film for the Giornate slate this year, apart from the recognition it brings to the film and its director, goes in just the above direction, which has always been our model. As Monicelli, Risi, Comencini and Scola would have said, the best way to better ourselves is to be aware of our worst selves. Mondo Sexy helps us to remember, see the 'naked' truth, and even smile at the way we were."
"I'd like to thank Women in Film, TV & Media Italia for their support and their keen interest in this project," says the filmmaker in turn. "I firmly believe that cinema is, on the one hand, in the vanguard as an all-important vehicle of transparency in portraying the forms of abuse connected with the viewing of the human body: At the same time, it is the best medium for capturing the sheer beauty of the human body and its infinite layers of meaning."
Mondo sexy. Il documentario erotico italiano degli anni Sessanta, directed by Mario Sesti, is one of Giornate degli Autori's Special Events at the 76th Venice Film Festival. Thanks to the tightly-edited sequences from erotic documentaries made in the 1960s - the so-called "mondo" genere, featuring titles such as Notti e donne proibite, 90 notti in giro per il mondo, and Super sexy 64 - the film is an intriguing journey through the striptease scene and the nightlife in cities like Paris, London, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and other exotic locations in the Sixties, a world mapped out by the popular imagination as to this film genre, which used the documentary style to evoke a taboo-ridden universe of naked desire.
Through the analysis and deconstruction of cultural stereotypes, ethnic discrimination, recurring themes and visual clichés, and with the support of experts, filmmakers of the time, journalists, scholars and critics who were interviewed, the film brings home the distance between us today from that attitude to women's bodies, and how that way of seeing can stand on their head dynamics and relationships that seemed intrinsic to the portrayal of sex.
"The film," continues its director, "hunts out and deconstructs the personalities, narratives and production styles of these low-budget but big box office films (that could rake in up to four times what they cost to turn out), but above all outs all the variations on discrimination, sexual stereotypes, and visual exploitation of the woman's body that appear highly controversial today. All are aspects that this film examines as if under a microscope, one that is 'involuntarily' revealing."
"By means of interviews with critics and experts on the genre, as well as female journalists and contemporary scholars, therapists and burlesque performers, I tried to map out and reconstruct the set of images associated with this film genre. Then understand the ways in which it reflects society, rituality, mainstream ideas and behaviors, and starting from that one scene, how, after the worldwide revolution of the #MeToo movement, it exposes the distance between us today and a mentality whose limits, inadequacy and abuse of power we can now see clearly."