Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘The Dilemma of Desire’

Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘The Dilemma of Desire’

Women are at the forefront in The Dilemma of Desire, Maria Finitzo’s documentary that is self-explanatory. It begins by showing those women in academic setting, reminding the audience of how patriarchal sex is. Of the control that parents subconsciously place on their children’s sexuality, centering that education on religious silence. Of repressing female fulfillment.

The documentary, then, explores how present and future generations break those silence. These women speak up not only on the academic setting but on the business side. One of its subjects sells vibrators. And she discusses how mindful she must be about designing those toys and how to shift that design away from male iconography.

The documentary tries and mostly succeeds in showing those shifts. A third avenue where that can happen is through the arts. Another subject is a poet. There is a noticeable trend on recent movies about process and this film covers that as well as the objective behind that process. Her poetry is about the men who have hurt her, but her work is not for him, which reflects this doc’s ethos.

That ethos does not just reflect either cis women or people who have femaleness as part of their past and present identity. Or at least this is one of the documentary’s aims. There is a lot of representation on what looks like healthy heterosexual love. Although there are not enough representations of people with gender-fluid identities or non-Abrahamic systems here.

The clash between social norms and its rebels will also mean that this documentary will depict the former. Some audiences will not be ready to confront depictions of oppressors since these rebels have not defeated those giants for now. But another way of looking at this movie is that it argues for contemporaneous record of her-story, which, why not?


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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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