Review: Because of My Body
- In Francesco Cannavà’s documentary, selected at the Biografilm, a young, disabled woman discovering her sexuality bravely lays herself bare
“Viewers will need courage to watch this film. It’s a powerful film, because it’s my own personal experience”. It was with these words that Claudia Muffi presented the documentary of which she is the protagonist, Because of My Body [+see also:
film profile], by Francesco Cannavà, in a world premiere and in competition at this year’s online Biografilm Festival. Claudia suffers from a congenital malformation (Spina bifida) which makes it impossible for her to walk, and in this work by the 39-year-old Messinese director, she quite literally lays herself bare, revealing her body, her sexuality and her deepest desires.
“In 2009, WHO recognised sexual pleasure as an unalienable human right”: this is the premise of Cannavà’s film. And yet, at 21 years of age, Claudia is yet to feel a man’s caress. She doesn’t know her own body nor that of others, and she has yet to experience sexual pleasure. For this reason, she decided to sign up to an experimental programme involving psychologists and expert sexologists which, over the course of eight sessions, would help her to get to know herself, both physically and emotionally, and allow her to build a relationship at some point in the future. All under the guidance of a love giver, or rather a Sexual Assistant for Disabled People, which in Claudia’s case is forty-year-old Marco.
It’s an experimental programme, because a law on the matter is yet to be developed in Italy. For assistants, who receive a fee for their services, physical contact with patients is strictly forbidden (otherwise it would be considered prostitution) and, clearly, falling in love in a no-go: for this reason, once the eight meetings have taken place, assistants and patients must cut contact and never see or hear from one another again. It’s a brutal but necessary rupture which Claudia will struggle to accept.
Claudia’s enthusiasm and willingness to experiment, her candour and her open smile are the heart and soul of this film, which doesn’t hesitate to document particularly intimate moments of her daily life and her journey of discovery: her genitalia reflected in a mirror, undressing in front of a man for the first time, her exploration of sex toys, all without the slightest embarrassment, but rather with the naturalness of a child exploring her own body. An especially moving moment is the body painting session where Marco and Claudia take turns to paint one another’s bodies. “I’m happy”, the young woman repeats as the paint brush caresses her skin.
Because of My Body is a loud and clear reminder that sexuality is a primary need, and that every human being feels this need and has the right to be touched, caressed, kissed or embraced. The film shows a possible new path which is courageously taken by Claudia, who overcomes all her limits in an ongoing emotional whirlwind. It’s a path which can be painful and which doesn’t shield the young woman from the darker sides of her character, but it’s also a crucial warning not to leave people like Claudia all alone; people, who, like everyone else, ask only to experience emotions.
Because of My Body is produced by B&B Film.
(Translated from Italian)
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