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Cling Film

Anna Thew
1993
23 mins colour & b/w 16mm

Cling Film

Based on a scurrilous factual/fictional text criticising vacuous 'art' and challenging the Arts Council to let an artist loose with the funds, Cling Film uses the tricks of the avant-garde trade, real life, real people, fast montage, rubber clothing, and some never before filmed camera angles to make for a safer sex film with a difference.

Teetering on the brink of pornography, Cling Film is a witty, fast cut safer sex collage which travels humorously and recklessly through a catalogue of sexual encounters and mishaps. Opening with text from the World Health Organisation forecasting massive global increases in heterosexual infection of HIV and AIDS by the turn of the millennium, superimposed over an anonymous crowd in slow motion (ref. Goldman's Pestilent Cities), the repressive, fear-mongering education tactics of the media are shunned in favour of a spirited, full frontal 'art attack' on censorship and its bed mates, prudishness, guilt and embarrassment.

There's the boy that flies out of bed at the crackle of a Mates packet, the drunken dark-eyed beau at a wake, who can't get a hard on with a condom, and the boy whose steamy love is unconsummated because he assumes straight sex without, is O.K. The object of desire points to the coffins and takes the plane. The sense of urgency is carried forward by the collective participation of a polymorphous, multi-national cast of dancers, musicians, performers and artists, some of whom are brave enough to play themselves.

Clauses from the Theatres and Obscene Publications Acts, "as to corrupting public morals and outraging public decency", are graphically and unashamedly printed over the practical act of putting on a condom, filmed by a woman, focussing male behaviour, funded with an Arts Council grant. British Laws, antiquated attitudes and social bigotry are perceived as the real rogues, with goggle eyed prurience effectively hindering the prevention of H.I.V. Along with hand written texts, optically superimposed captions, and the spectre of Nosferatu shrinking to nothing at the sight of a condom, Anna Thew takes to the silent screen as Cornell's Rose Hobart, subverting the glance of the avant-garde 'voyeur', and making for some hilarious as well as confrontational episodes.

For avant-garde buffs, the film is peppered with allusions to historic gems, from bike boys, (Scorpio Rising), rubber/dress fetishism (Puce Moment), cut away cats (Fuses), surreal beach scenes (Chien Andalou), camera in the act/abstract flesh (Love-Making, Geography of the Body), feet wiggling and toe sucking (AI Love), to poison aria snips from Tristan and Isolde, and chords from Gershwin's 'The Man I Love', sampled, dissembled, reversed and re-mixed with ingenious music tracks by Identical and Thew/Mitchell's rubberised, condom packet tearing and ear searing FX. What with crosses, Jesus postcards, climactic organ music, church congregations singing Hallelujah and motorbike's revving over on screen penetration, the Catholic right press were sent into convulsions (Oporto/Figueira).

The message, whether it's for the first or hundredth time: unprotected sex can kill.

"Cling Film is one of the first films to confront heterosexual ignorance about HIV and AIDS, with humour and irony". TIME TO ACT curated by Manfred Salzgeber, Netherlands touring programme.

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