Three French Gems…
By Lea Luiz De Oliviera and Beth Simpson
Look, we can’t deny the Boris-faced, virus-infested elephant in the room that this year hasn’t been great. But in the spirit of holiday cheer, I thought I would offer a bit of light relief from all of that by giving you a carefully crafted selection of holiday gifts. Yes, that’s right, I am joining the canon of Destiny’s Child, The Muppets and carol singers far and wide to give you my take on the Twelve Days of Christmas; the aptly named Twelve Days of Clitmas. For the last few weeks, I have been gathering nuggets of both wisdom and fun from many wonderful people, which I (your true love) will give to you (our Clitbait readers) as festive treats for the next twelve days. From holiday recipes, to wild swimming spots, to tips for a more pleasurable sex life, I hope there will be something in this for everyone! So, get the chestnuts roasting as I pop these gifts under the metaphorical tree and let’s end the year with a smile.
On the third day of Clitmas my true love sent to me…
Three French gems:
For day three’s festive treat, you have a selection of the best contemporary French films as chosen by Scottish-based, French-Brazilian filmmaker, Lea Luiz De Oliviera. Lea co-founded the Spit it Out Project; an award-winning collective aiming to build connections and provide a platform for discussions about trauma, mental health, sex positivity and healing through creativity. Her documentary, “Spit it Out” (2019), commissioned by BBC Scotland, explores recovery from sexual trauma through the power of spoken word and live performance. She is currently working on a documentary entitled “What it Means to be Me” (2020) which tells the story of Callie, an activist who uses her music to fight for trans* rights and representation. Find more of her amazing work at spititoutproject.com/lea and on Instagram at spititout_project.
Divines – Hounda Benyamina
“You’ve got clit, I like that.”
The story of Douina and Maimouna, who are ready to do anything in order to leave the ghetto where they grew up, is certainly one of the most incredible films released in French cinema over the last few years. As Douina starts selling drugs as a way to make quick money, she realises that her decision impacts not only her future, but her friendships, love life and her perception of herself. The cinematography is breathtaking; the camera capturing perfectly the magnificence of these two young women and their unbreakable bond. In this film, just as in life, Benyamina shows how we can deal with tragedy through laughter. A masterpiece!”
Petite Fille – Sebastien Lifshitz
“Petite Fille is the latest documentary from genius filmmaker, Sebastien Lifshitz. It follows a mother and her young daughter through their fight for recognition of gender dysphoria. Sasha is eight years old. She has known and communicated that she is a girl since she started talking. Now her family is ready to fight for her rights no matter what it takes. Lifshitz has a unique way of filming people with so much respect, empathy and what seems to be pure love. No need for fancy cinematography and theatrical effects; intimate words and incredible stories are enough. He focuses on faces, looks, laughs. Through his lens, we witness Sasha becoming more confident and happy as she slowly gets the right to be her true self. It’s impossible to not be moved by this important and necessary story.”
An Easy Girl – Rebecca Zlotowski
“An easy girl tells the story of Naima, 16, whose life is turned upside down when her older cousin, Sofia, comes to live with her for the summer. They spend long nights with rich men, using their bodies and charm as a way to enjoy a life in Cannes; one they would otherwise never get to know. Zlotowski’s film lingers in the mind: the way the female body is filmed with sensuality, the concept of consent smoothly or abruptly thrown at the character’s faces, the fact that sex work is not demonised, the complexity of freedom for young women explored in a sad, but joyful manner. The film is slow and full of empathy. It has the essence of a film from another time, whilst tackling important and difficult contemporary discussions in the most graceful manner. “
Header image also by the wonderful Beth!