Prostitution through the eyes of Michael Glawogger
by Sergio Ríos Pérez
25/11/2011 - Prostitution, shown in three red-light districts in three countries that are completely different in terms of religion, culture and race, is the starting point of Austrian director Michael Glawogger’s documentary Whores' Glory [trailer]. After its triumphant appearance in the Horizons section at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, the film screened out of competition yesterday at the 49th Gijón International Film Festival.
The three spaces become protagonists of the film in their own right, which are swarming with prostitutes and clients in an endless game of seduction, money and work. The first one, The Fishtank, is a cold room in Bangkok, divided in two by a pane of glass, which separates the young prostitutes from their potential clients; the second, the City of Joy, is a gloomy labyrinth of narrow streets in the city of Faridpur (Bangladesh), while the third, La Zona, is a cluster of slum houses in the border town of Reynosa (Mexico), where local men drive slowly in their cars along the muddy streets in search of sex.
Whores' Glory marks another documentary about globalization by Glawogger after the seminal films Megacities(1998) and Workingman's Death(2005). Right from the start, the director avoids the film becoming a pretext for defending a specific position on prostitution (“Moralising is the artist’s main enemy”, he insists). His aim is to show what happens in reality, delving into the lives of the prostitutes and their clients without any desire to psychoanalyse them.
Given that it deals with such a sensitive subject, the documentary’s impeccable technical style comes as a surprise. Many months were needed to earn the trust of the protagonists and proof of that is the camera’s incredible degree of invisibility. The soundtrack, including songs by artists like PJ Harvey, CocoRosie and Antony and the Johnsons, despite being out of context with the story, adds a touch of lyricism and gives the narration a rhythm that is unexpected in this genre, giving rise to a kind of documentary-music video.
(Translated from Spanish)