Silver Girls @ Montreal International Documentary Film Festival

Prostitution has been called the world's oldest profession. In some countries it is legal and others not. Wherever it is discussed there are people on either side of the fence. It is usually a very polarizing subject. As a result much time has been devoted to it by filmmakers. Whether it is a light and fluffy look at it a la "Pretty Woman" or a more serious one like "Leaving Las Vegas" they tend to be about young women who due to circumstances find themselves exchanging sex for money. This is where the documentary "Silver Girls" by director Saara Alia Waasner is different.

"Silver Girls" focuses the camera on three women who work as prostitutes who are older. Christel, Paula and Karolina are three very different women, who lead very different lives, but all work as prostitutes. One works in her apartment, one in a brothel and the other at a dominatrix studio. None of them feels the need to justify what they do and what exactly they do is not shown on screen. It is more about getting to know each woman personally and how they juggle their personal lives while working in this particular profession. In their jobs we see how they all have learned to assume different personalities with unique skill sets depending on the wishes of their clients. These women see their jobs as selling dreams.

Christel is 59-years-old and only became a prostitute at 49. After a life long battle with mental illness she ditched her medication and tried the alternative therapy route. It worked so well that she regained her energy and sex drive. Christel works from home and tells of how there is quite a demand for older prostitutes.

49-year-old Paula runs a brothel in Berlin and has been a prostitute for 30 years. She claims that once a woman has worked as a prostitute that she can never quit.

Finally there is 64-year-old dominatrix Karolina. Twenty-five years previous she left her husband and her life to become a dominatrix.

Each woman also talks about why they became prostitutes. And with humour and frankness tell us what it means to them to work as a prostitute. All three are very up front and honest about what they do and show no signs of embarrassment. It has been a positive experience for all three of these women. Also they are generous with their allowing us into the inner workings of their lives.

Maybe because of their ages or maybe because they trusted the director, there are some interesting revelations in the film. Some viewers might be surprised to hear that these women know how to divide their work and real lives and as such yearn for love and have plenty to give. They all agree that emotions are very important to them despite the fact that they have to turn them off to do what they do. Another interesting thing is how these three women in the autumn of their lives see prostitution as a rather run of the mill profession. As they see it as nothing special the three are able to gain fulfillment and be happy that they are doing it. What is particularly interesting is that each is basically of the middle class yet continue to engage in a profession that we tend to associate with the lowest of classes.

It was amazing to me to learn that this was director Saara Alia Waasner's graduation film from school. She is totally respectful of these women and never stoops to showing them as fools or in a tawdry way. A confident and insightful piece of work for a beginner!

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