for Cinetalk.net

The Festival du Nouveau Cinema (FNC) has a fully hybrid format this year. The in-person experience has ended, but most films are still viewable online until October 31st. Do consult the full schedule since some films are only accessible for a short time.

 

Henrika Kull’s Bliss felt a bit familiar. Cinetalk tends to read a film’s synopsis, decides to watch it, and then promptly forgets what the synopsis said. The movie-going experience is more fun this way! However, in the case of this particular film, it led to trying to connect the dots. An androgynous Italian character living in Germany.  A lot of tattoos. Body-hair positivity. Sex work.

Something was oddly similar to a film from the not-so-distant past, but what was it?

 

Meet Adam Hoya, in the role of Maria. Out of curiosity, a Google search didn’t bring up much information about this actor. But then slowly, the pieces started to fit together. Hoya was formerly known as Eva Collé. The Instagram star was the subject of the documentary, Searching Eva.

Hoya recently came out as transgender, but had no reason to refuse the role of Maria. Acting is acting, after all, regardless of gender. The role is handled with care, and shows vulnerability below a more assured exterior.

The core of Bliss unfolds at a modern-day brothel, but it is  more a story about falling in love, and being an outsider. Maria (Hoya) and Sascha (Katharina Behrens) are not only a same-sex couple, but are also both sex workers. Not everyone is okay with that, and things start to unravel for Sascha. Mostly, Maria sits helplessly and quietly as she watches things spiral for her girlfriend.

Sometimes, we are unable to help someone who isn’t yet receptive to help. Perhaps Maria already knows this from her own experiences. Though downplayed, it does appear that Maria has her own uncomfortable baggage.

Takes one to know one, in all aspects of the women’s relationship. Their interactions are tender, and filmed in an at-times Cinéma vérité style. Hoya has real-life sex work experience, and this gives another layer of credibility to the situations and interactions. Rather than portraying prostitution as demeaning and dirty, Kull shows what is really just another job. She presents a cast of strong and independent women. Void of the typical male gaze, Bliss is a delicate but also powerful image of the modern woman.

 

Bliss On Demand until October 31st, 2021

https://nouveaucinema.ca/