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Culture

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Buying Sex

Buying Sex delves into the prostitution debate without selling either side.

DIRECTED BY TERESA MACINNES AND KENT NASON (Canada, Canadian Spectrum)
3stars


SCREENINGS:

Wednesday, May 1, 6 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)

Friday, May 3, 1:30 PM
Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West)

Sunday, May 5, 1:30 PM
Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West)


There is no easy way to wade into the sex-trade debate. The question of legalizing prostitution is a central and sensitive topic for many in the feminist movement, capable of eliciting knee-jerk reactions from all sides. Women should never be a commodity, say some. With legalization comes protection and empowerment, say others. Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason’s Buying Sex presents both sides, creating a comprehensive—though at times lagging—piece on the topic in a Canadian context.

Centering on the run-up to the 2012 Ontario court ruling that legalized some aspects of prostitution in Canada, Buying Sex focuses on two divergent camps. On one side is Valerie Scott, a sex worker who campaigns in favour of legalization, and who, with lawyer Alan Young, takes the case to the Supreme Court. Her most vocal opponent is Trisha Baptie, a former sex worker from Vancouver’s downtown east side, who is adamantly opposed to loosening up the law. The documentary takes viewers to countries that have legalized (New Zealand) and banned (Sweden) prostitution.

MacInnes and Nason present the trade as something complicated. This stance is the doc’s strongest aspect. In choosing to favour neither side, Buying Sex does what many films on the topic don’t: it lets the women speak for themselves.


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