Prostitution, especially in documentary film, is usally treated as a socio-political proble, brought about by misogyny, crime and deprivation. In this context, it’s inherently evil, a one-sided struggle between men and women, between those who have power and those who do not. Renowned photographer Antoine d’Agata has spent his life working with people who have been marginalised by society, left to depend on prostitution and drugs for survival. His latest film Atlas moves beyond the traditional narratives and explores the ways in which these men and women affirm their existence, even as they’re consumed by an astonishingly brutal reality.
Hyena, the second feature from London-born director Gerard Johnson, opens with a slow motion raid on a neon-blue nightclub. The four men who carry it out are inebriated – a mixture of drink and drugs – and meet wordlessly en route in a small, plain car. When they park in an alleyway and pull on police gear, your first instinct is that they’re faking it, putting on masks. But it transpires that they really are policeman, just the kind that employ violence indiscriminately and abuse their authority to take a cut from local gangs. As one character later comments, you’d think policemen like them wouldn’t exist.
GUYS! GUYS! Svengali is so good, guys! It’s funny and heart-breaking and sweet and just so wonderful and mod! (I’ve loved the Mods since I saw Quadrophenia when I was 12) Martin Freeman only has two scenes, but they are soooo good! And Jonny Owen is a sweetheart (I met him at the screening) and his character is just as sweet.