Tag: remedy events

#winning at the Boston Underground Film Festival

Last week I went up to the Boston Underground Film Festival, where REMEDY was a super late addition to the party, but apparently every bit as welcome… BECAUSE REMEDY WON THE DIRECTORS’ CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE!!! And yes, the statue looks just like that.

Sometimes as a filmmaker you read a review where the critic “gets it” so much that you even agree with the things they didn’t like so much. Film crit blog Next Projection published such a write-up. Click here to read the review that made the director cry.

Review in Spielfilm & Kabeleins

…authentic, honest, different, mundane and surprising … an insight into the professional world of BDSM that we have not seen before. – Gregor Torinus (Spielfilm)

Click here to read the review in Spielfilm.de!

(Translation below from Toby Tentakel.)

Review: Remedy (2014)
Rating: 4 / 5

The upcoming film adaptation of the soft BDSM bestseller 50 Shades of Grey is already casting its shadows. Now that suddenly a mass audience is interested in the former taboo subject of “BDSM,” other films with related topics are being released in cinemas. But Remedy is both visually and content-wise pretty much the opposite of 50 Shades of Grey.  Instead of a smooth and overblown erotic atmosphere with some spicy touch of S&M, Cheyenne Picardo’s debut Remedy is much closer to the style of “cinema verité,” as recently seen in National Gallery. An authentic look that is further enhanced by the visibly low budget. The film was predominantly shot with a cheap camera in the basement [director’s note:  it was actually in a barn] of the parents of the filmmaker, with the plot consisting mainly of a loose series of sessions.

According to Cheyenne Picardo, the film is based on her own personal experiences. She is active herself in the BDSM scene of New York, having worked in a BDSM studio there. As the writer and director of Remedy, she thinks that even though there are depiction of BDSM scenes all over the media, these only represent one side of this topic. What is missing are films about the various people who – like Remedy – stumble into the scene for mundane reasons.  She is for example missing representations of students that start working in the summer holidays to earn quick money, and other women who do not come from “the scene”. How do such people experience working in a BDSM studio, where they give up control for an hour just for money? How can a slave separate her own personal feelings from her profession? These are exciting questions that “Remedy” pursues in a sensitive manner.

The leading role of Remedy is convincingly played by Kira Davies, who is not part of the BDSM scene herself. She manages to plausibly portray Remedy as a clever and at the same time naive young woman who stumbled into a BDSM studio, where she is trained by her jaded colleagues. Like in other jobs, there is swearing and blasphemy during breaks, and sometimes an amusing anecdote about particularly unusual clients.  The clients and therefore all the sessions are really varied and different: some clients are nice and courteous, other are arrogant and dismissive and some are slightly crazy. But all these scenes are about the different human encounters.

People who like to see dark erotica or even sex won’t be satisfied with Remedy. Instead, Picardo offers a glimpse into a world that is excitingly different, but at the same time similarily banal like other working environments.

Conclusion: Remedy is authentic, honest, different, mundane and surprising and provides an insight into the professional world of BDSM that we have not seen before.

– Gregor Torinus

Click here to read the writeup in Kabeleins.de!  (Translation coming.)

REVIEW in Indiekino

REMEDY tells of an excess of intensity in the BDSM sessions, something that can not be simply shut off in daily life. – Indiekino

Here is a link to the review in the original German, where REMEDY gets contrasted with a German sex work film, TOP GIRL!

Sex and Economics

With Ulrich Seidl’s “IM KELLER,” Cheyenne Picardo’s “REMEDY” and Tatjana Turanskyj’s “TOP GIRL OR LA DÉFORMATION PROFESSIONELLE” there are currenty three films released in cinemas that deal with private and commercial sexual fantasies in very different ways. Seidl’s film shows BDSM people, two private and a professional couple, like exhibited objects in fairground booths, only to be seen by people with high school graduation – a kind of visual slumification in cinematic Louboutins. At least Seidl lets his protagonists talk. And especially the speech of a masochistic woman, naked and bound, about her precise differentiation between erotic submission and consensual pain opposed to violence and abuse, shows the high amount of self-reflexion that her sexual preference requires.

REMEDY and TOP GIRL on the other hand are about the commercial side of BDSM, but approach this subject with totally different perspectives. Cheyenne Picardo, director of REMEDY, worked in New York as a switch in a BDSM club, so she knows both the dominant and the submissive side. REMEDY is an autobiographic film about her experiences. Tatjana Turanskyj’s TOP GIRL, however, is more reminiscent of René Pollesch’s theater of discoure that was popular in the nineties. It is the second part of a planned trilogy about women and work. Even though it contains a plot about Helena, an unemployed actress (Julia Hummer) who works as an escort and fulfills the sexual desires of her clients, mostly the film is about materials, phrases and theses in an accented artificiality, often in parodic inversion. A lecture about cosmetic surgery is so much flavored with post-feministic rhetoric that only a feminist critique on self-optimisation remains.  Relationships between people arise only on a material basis, it is all about money and work, with the money only being passed on concealed in envelopes. The men’s sexual fantasies are almost always about gender switching, like Judith Butler proposed it as a feminist strategy some years ago. In Turanskyj’s film, male submission fantasies are becoming fantasies again, in which men occupy a female position and move to a place from which they can fantasize about the subjugation of femininity, even if the formally assume the submissive position.

The girl is always below, down to the symbolic or real extinction. Whether TOP GIRL actually knows the world the film is about is ultimately irrelevant for the artistic concept. Economics is the cause for the disappearance of the female identity, and sex work is an intensified form of that, as it kills the body more quickly. The roles in this film describe positions, not characters. Helena and her mother represent two generations of false consciousness. The eldery because she follows an ideal of self-realization that turns out to be a market-compliant self-confinement, the younger one because she fails to recognize the relentless commodification and objectification of her body. She thinks of herself as a player in this game, but is only a screen for projection and agent of self-extinction. There are no personal, only business relationships between these two figures. It is a thesis film about which one can and should talk, but which does not have any aesthetically representative function and whose relationship to a pre-cinematic, pre-conceptual reality exists only theoretically and metaphorically.

Cheyenne Picardo’s film REMEDY is the opposite of TOP GIRL: a cinematic autobiography that is particularly interested in the relationship between the sex worker Remedy and her clients and the feelings associated with that. It is not because of financial distress that Remedy begins to work as a dominatrix and later as a submissive, but only out of personal interest in the BDSM scene of New York, particularly as someone challenges her: “You could never do that!” There is no sex in the club that Remedy works in – prostitution is illegal in New York, but BDSM clubs are allowed. The problem there is not the lack of intensity in the encounters, but an excess of it. Remedy is not hurt or deformed, but her experience move her so much that she decides to quit the job. Cheyenne Picardo shows some absurd events, like Remedy’s first session as a dominatrix, where she is supposed to give a mean guy a dental treatment, but instead gets him to fall asleep by giving him a foot massage. But more important are other encounters, for example when she meets a friendly flagellant and switches roles with him, resulting in a joyful competition about who can take the most blows.

Remedy likes the phyiscal aspects of her job, but not the psychic ones. She does not offer [sessions where she receives] “extreme humiliation” and she never strips naked, but when a man lets her dance being bound in front of him, this scenes stays with her for a long time. If Remedy is humiliated or aroused in that critical moment, the film does not tell, but it is not important anyway. REMEDY tells of an excess of intensity in the BDSM sessions, something that can not be simply shut off in daily life. Remedy and her clients come very close, but this closeness turns out to be an illusion.

Picardo made the film in a very direct and improvised style, citing the films of Mike Leigh as a role model, as well as the film WORKING GIRLS (1986) by avant-gardist Lizzie Borden (not to be confused with Melanie Griffith’s film WORKING GIRL from 1988). She puts the shabbiness of the BDSM studio, where there is always a mop in the corner and some piece of bondage equipment on the edge of tipping over, in contrast to the excitingly staged interactions betweens the people. Picardo said about REMEDY: “The film should do justice to the people in the scene, professional or not. I had to show the good and the bad things, without condemning sex work or the concept of kinky sex.”

And she succeeded with this very personal film.

REVIEW in Filmgazette.de

Her autobiographically tinged drama is a world apart from E.L. James’s conservative hokum. -Filmgazette

Link to the original review here!

Or read the English translation, generously provided by filmmaker Nina Gielen.

A top, close to hitting bottom

 To not immediately think of the “biggest international best-seller in recent years” at the mere mention of “BDSM” might be rendered even more difficult in light of the upcoming aggressively marketed release of the movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey”. But even the title of Cheyenne Picardo’s low-budget film debut “Remedy” is like an antidote administered just in time to that slick, glossy fantasy. Picardo too tells of a young woman who enters a dazzling gray area between leather bonds and whipped flesh, and has a close and personal encounter with dominance and submission – beyond that, her autobiographically tinged drama is a world apart from E.L. James’s conservative hokum.

 Along with its unnamed protagonist (Kira Davies) the movie stumbles somewhat innocuously into the life of a sex worker and seems to initially not know where it’s headed. The heroine, who decides on a whim to take a job as a dominatrix in a New York S&M club, henceforth calling herself “Mistress Remedy”, staggers doe-eyed on uncertain stilletto heels through the introductory scenes and not only gains insight (along with the audience) into the world of BDSM, but also exposes the structure of the film: With the aid of individual episodes that often share only the protagonist’s presence as a common denominator, writer-director Picardo gradually unfurls the multi-layered portrait of a workplace that’s unusual at first glance only.

 In spite of this, “Remedy”–with its cheap digital look and blatant tonal shifts–seems almost naïve and trashy at first. The dominatrix-colleagues’ rude reception of Mistress Remedy seems entirely cliched, and her very first client, known as “Marathon Man” because of his predilection for dental treatments, seems to set the tone for a voyeuristic freakshow to come. But Picardo skilfully circumvents the potentially sensationalistic nature of her story by opting to show faces rather than genitalia, and, along with her talented lead actress, exploring first and foremost the psychological ramifications of sex work on Mistress Remedy.

 In “Remedy” the BDSM storyline doesn’t serve as a template for shallow erotic entertainment, but neither is the film in any way sex negative or damning. Even if Mistress Remedy learns over time that her job comes with certain nuisances and unwanted humiliations (of which having to clean up her work space is the least), using the lows and traumas her character experiences as a vehicle for preaching about fallen women seems the last thing on Picardo’s agenda. The visceral discomfort that sets in more and more for the young dominatrix (and presumably the audience) doesn’t stem from rigid sexual morality, but comes across as a critique of capitalism that also affects work places far removed from the sex industry.

Mistress Remedy’s apparently emancipated role in acting as a top to male bottoms quickly loses all of its empowering qualities in a commercial context; in the end the strong woman merely serves to cater to male pleasure. But not only is Mistress Remedy’s own authentic desire negotiable, accessible and exploitable; even her refusal can be turned into capital: When the heroine turns down a Jewish client aroused by antisemitic slurs in a self-confident and well-spoken-manner, he still leaves a bundle of cash on the table as a fee , thereby perversely turning even the stubborn refusal to be bought into a desired commodity.

 Equally misleading and telling is a recurring scene that purports to show a private moment. Mistress Remedy and a colleague are casually chatting over a smoke, but as the camera pulls back, what looks like a cigarette break is in fact revealed to be part of their job routine: A mummified man kneels before the two women, and the chain-smoking dominatrixes put out one cigarette butt after the other on his naked back. Thus, a gesture of empowerment, pleasure and privacy are all subsumed into an assembly-line production.



REVIEW in Programmkino

REMEDY tells of the emotional journey of the leading woman in a seductive low-budget indie look, that reminds a bit of cinema verité and the style of Wong Kar-Wai … but is in any case a far cry from high-gloss productions like EYES WIDE SHUT. – Programmkino

REMEDY got reviewed by Programmkino.de!

(Translation by Toby Tentakel.)

A club in New York. A young woman, her name shall remain unknown, watches a BDSM performance. “Do you know someone who does that?” She asks a friend. “That’s not for you,” he replies. This is the beginning: a challenge, a game. The woman contacts a professional BDSM studio and now calls herself Mistress Remedy. She meets her colleagues and learns the processes, equipment and No-Gos: The women don’t undress and have not – at least officially – sex with clients. Prostitution is illegal in the United States.

Based on her own experience as a professional switch (someone who can assume both the dominant and submissive role), Cheyenne Picardo tells of Remedy’s encounters and the emotions involved with them. Some scenes are quite bizarre. The very first customer wants, for example, a dental treatment with anesthetics from Remedy, but she instead puts him to sleep with a foot massage. Another loves to be used as a piece of furniture while two women smoke and talk about their relationship life. Unlike countless pseudo-documentaries on TV, REMEDY is not about showing the most shocking fantasies imaginable, but rather the interpersonal life, what is happening invisibly between Remedy and her customers. With one client, for example, she starts a contest to see who can endure the most pain, a game that appeals to Remedy. Another one teaches her professional bondage and ties her into a stylish package after he notices her lousy technique.

On the way home (one of the very few moments that take place outside the studio) you can see Remedy in the subway, dreaming. She finally decides to work as a sub, to be dominated by customers. This will get her more money, but she does not yet expect how intense and disturbing this experience will get for her.

REMEDY tells of the emotional journey of the leading woman in a seductive low-budget indie look, that reminds a bit of cinema verité and the style of Wong Kar-Wai (Picardo cites Leigh, Cronenberg and Lizzie Borden as her role models), but is in any case a far cry from high-gloss productions like EYES WIDE SHUT. In the corner of one of the sordid playrooms are buckets and a broom, a throne with a wooden cross is poorly attached to the wall and might tip over any time. This depiction does not diminish the emotional intensity of the narrated scenes at all, which is especially due to Kira Davies credible depiction of Remedy as a curious, open-minded and intelligent character who is also inexperienced and prone to overconfidence. Finally, Remedy’s self-experience experiment demands too much of her. Cheyenne Picardo stages this neither as a complete disaster, nor does she hold the BDSM scene responsible for Remedy’s collapse. REMEDY tells of how valuable, entertaining, sometimes painful but definitely interesting it is to make experiences with other people.