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SXSW: The Dilemma of Desire

Clitoris. It’s a word that comes with a lot of unnecessary baggage. It’s one one of the greatest anatomical features women can possess because its only job is to give us pleasure. The tip of the clitoris has over 8,000 nerves. While 96% of men can orgasm through intercourse only 25% of women can. The clitoris is our access to orgasms. Yet the clitoris, the organ itself and the word, has largely been feared, ignored and repressed. It wasn’t until 1998 that the first extraction of a full female clitoris, by Dr. Helen O’Connell, happened. Before that scientists didn’t fully understand its shape, size and function. Why has the clitoris been ignored? The clue can be found in how we as a society treat women’s sexuality. Men’s sexuality is encouraged, even celebrated, and women’s sexuality is seen as a threat. Women are seen as an object of desire while their own desire is feared. It’s time for the clitoris to come to the forefront. It’s time to strip it of the needless shame and secrecy. It’s time to give women control over their own sexuality and their own bodies. Let’s celebrate the CLITORIS!

“It is a powerful thing to control someone’s body. That is why no one wants to talk about the clitoris. It is a reminder of women’s independence and is at the core of their liberation.”

Maria Finitzo

The Dilemma of Desire is an unabashed celebration of women’s sexuality. It calls for cliteracy, an open dialogue and appreciation for the clitoris. Directed by Maria Finitzo, The Dilemma of Desire includes interviews with a variety of women and how they’ve explored their expressions of sexuality. The most interesting subject of the documentary is Sophia Wallace, the artist who started a cliteracy project. She created a design in the shape of the clitoris that she uses in her art as well as the Laws of Cliteracy, many of which are shared in the film.

I had a strict religious upbringing and much of what I learned about women’s sexuality I learned on my own. One of the greatest resources I encountered during my sexual awakening was the-clitoris dot com (don’t try to look it up, it no longer exists and the URL will take you to a malware infected site). This site offered extensive information about the clitoris, other parts of a woman’s anatomy, stories shared by women about their own experiences and so much more. I spent hours on the site, learning the things that my parents and my school couldn’t or wouldn’t teach me. With the help of the site I found my clitoris and had my first orgasm at the age of 19. The-Clitoris no longer exists but The Dilemma of Desire does. Don’t let the strong feminist and political leaning scare you off. The Dilemma of Desire will empower women to embrace their sexuality and that is a beautiful thing.

The Dilemma of Desire was scheduled to have its premiere at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival. You can find more information about this film on the official website.

Blood On Her Name

Garage owner Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) finds herself in an impossibly bad situation. She’s in the possession of a dead body, one she killed herself, presumably in self-defense, and is tasked with getting rid of it. Does she hide the body? Or does she bring it back to his family? Turning herself in is not an option. She’s got too much at stake. There’s her son Ryan (Jared Ivers) who is on probation and trying to be on his best behavior. There’s her father Richard (Will Patton) a local cop with whom she has a toxic relationship. Then there is the garage and her employee Jimmy (Reynoso Dias). But on the flip side there’s the man’s family including his girlfriend Dani (Elisabeth Rohm). As Leigh finds herself torn with disposing the body and returning him to his family, her situation grows more and more dire. How will she get this blood off her name?

Blood On Her Name is a sharply focused thriller that is concerned with the aftermath of a crime rather than the crime itself. The audience doesn’t see the crime occur. We don’t know who the victim is, why he was killed or whether Leigh killed him in self-defense. The film starts with Leigh standing over the man’s dead body, her face cut and bruised and covered with blood. There are no flashbacks but an apparition of Leigh’s younger self does come back to haunt her.

On first viewing, Blood On Her Name felt kind of flat. It grew on me over time. There is some cheesiness especially with the scenes between Leigh and her father. I wish their relationship was explored more thoroughly. The main character’s ambiguity is the biggest draw. Is she a victim or a villain? We don’t really know and Bethany Anne Lind does a great job at keeping the audience guessing. 

Blood On Her Name was directed by Matthew Pope. Pope wrote and produced the film with Don M. Thompson for their new production company Thompson’s Rising Creek Films. This is Pope’s debut feature film.

Blood on Her Name premiered at last year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. It is now available on digital through Amazon Prime, Vudu and Google Play.

Slamdance: Big Fur

by Ally Russell

Big Fur chronicles World Champion Taxidermist Ken Walker’s attempt to build a believable Bigfoot replica—specifically the “Patty” from the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, which shocked viewers back in 1967 when it showed an unidentified bipedal hominid walking along a riverbank in northern California. Home videos and interviews with Ken’s family, friends, and colleagues give viewers an intimate look at his personal life and beliefs, all while he builds his monstrous masterpiece in the background.

Director and producer Dan Wayne became interested in the subject of taxidermy because of its unique blend of art and science. It wasn’t until Dan met former Roy Orbison impersonator turned Bigfoot believer and Taxidermist Ken Walker that he decided to film a documentary to shine a spotlight on an underappreciated art form and its misunderstood artists. Not only did he spend five years researching, camping in the secluded wilderness, and filming Ken as he built Patty, but Dan also began practicing taxidermy. Big Fur is Dan’s first feature documentary, and it was made in collaboration with producer and award-winning writer and filmmaker Jon Niccum, and writer and editor George Langworthy, producer and director of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees (2009)—a project on which Dan also collaborated.

Ken Walker creates a life-sized Bigfoot in the feature documentary Big Fur. – Photo Courtesy Millennial PR
Ken Walker stands next to a tree structure, possibly built by Bigfoot, in the feature documentary Big Fur. – Photo Courtesy Millennial PR

For those looking for an intimate and educational look at the art and science of taxidermy, Big Fur covers the subject with extreme care and attention to detail. Skeptics beware—you’ll find no Bigfoot mockery in this documentary. Considering that the main subject of the film believes in Bigfoot (so fervently that he keeps not one but TWO bags of alleged sasquatch scat in his freezer), it was a bit of a disappointment that Ken never shared his encounters on screen. Its creators describe the film as a “comical portrait of an eccentric artist-hero.” Sure, there are funny moments—like Ken singing Hello! Ma Baby! while stomping around his workshop with two Styrofoam sasquatch legs—but other moments, like the revelation of a very questionable personal relationship with another subject featured in the film, feel tacked on and detract from the focus of the main storyline. Watching Ken build his rendition of Patty is certainly enjoyable, but the task lacks tension. Ken alludes to hurdles, but viewers don’t get to witness those hairy moments. Perhaps Big Fur’s most important subplot is its insightful commentary from author and naturalist Robert Pyle and retired outfitter and activist Mike Judd as they call for hunters and environmentalist to collaborate because of their mutual goal of preserving and protecting the wilderness from industry. Overall, Big Fur may lack tension and focus as it nears its conclusion, but the film is still a worthwhile watch for those with a healthy interest in taxidermy and cryptozoology.

A quiet and thoughtful film that heralds the importance of environmentalism, art… and Bigfoot. An enjoyable watch for Bigfoot believers, taxidermy enthusiasts, and environmentalists.

About the reviewer: Ally Russell occasionally creates content for the Horror Writers Association’s Young Adult & Middle Grade blog, SCARY OUT THERE, and she hosts the FlashFrights podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Ally lives in Boston and works at an independent children’s publisher. She enjoys talking about cryptids in her free time. She can be found on Instagram at @OneDarkAlly.

Big Fur is screening at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival as part of their Documentary Features series. Learn more about this film by visiting the official website.

Slamdance: Shoot to Marry

“I was hoping to be married by my next colonoscopy.”

Steve Markle

Steve Markle wants to get married. After his disastrous Christmas day proposal to his longtime girlfriend ends in heartbreak, the 42 year old filmmaker goes on a journey to learn more about women, relationships and himself. Over the course of a year he interviews a variety of interesting women, either to date them or to be educated by them. These women include his elementary school crush, a lumberjack, a pilot, a heart transplant recipient, a professional cuddler, a hat designer, a sensual massage coach, a dominatrix, a tattoo artist, another filmmaker, a sex club owner, etc. Steve is willing to try new things and put himself outside of his comfort zone. In traveling to meet with these women, he finds disappointment and enlightenment along the way. Of all the women he meets it’s Erin, the serial date who blogs about only dating for the free meals, whom Steve finds a meaningful connection with. Ultimately, Steve has to learn that his desperation for marriage won’t get the final result he desires. Instead he has to be content with the present if there ever is going to be a future.

Shoot to Marry is a heartfelt documentary that is equal parts introspective, quirky, funny, sad and joyful.

Usually in a review like this I would refer to the filmmaker by his or her last name. But this is such an intimate documentary that in a weird way I felt like I really go to know Steve and through his film I made a new friend. I found myself rooting for him from the very beginning and even felt second hand embarrassment at his failures and sheer joy at his accomplishments. Steve is genuine and funny. I found myself heartily laughing at his one liners. Going for a routine colonoscopy he jokes “it’s probably just cancer.” While filming a tattoo artist named Danielle tattooing another Danielle he observes that what he’s doing is “fucked up” and quips, “I should be making a real documentary about climate change or spelling bees.”

Steve wrote, produced, starred, directed and edited Shoot to Marry. The film chronicles his year long pursuit, which is fascinating on its own, but it’s the coda that comes 5 years later that really makes the documentary something special. And I’ll admit it, I had a good cry by the end. Bring some tissues for this one.

Shoot to Marry premieres at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival. You can find out more information about this documentary at the official website.


How do you go on living your life when you feel useless? Felix Greystone (Richard Kind), a talented architect, has just been forced into early retirement by his firm. At his going away party his coworker Hillary (Larisa Oleynik) gives him a very special present: Auggie. This pair of A/I glasses when worn conjures up the vision of a companion, someone who represents the wearer’s deepest desires and is always available and amenable. Now that Felix’s wife Anne (Susan Blackwell) is busy with her career and his grown up daughter Grace (Simone Policano) is moving in with her boyfriend, Felix is absolutely and positively alone. He puts on the glasses and there is Auggie (Christen Harper) a gorgeous young woman who tells Felix all that he wants to hear. As Anne starts to drift away and contemplates an affair with her coworker Jack (James C. Victor) and Grace is asserting more of her independence, Felix grows more and more reliant on Auggie for companionship. Complications inevitable arise and Auggie takes over Felix’s reality.

Image courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films

“Guess you’re retired, life’s over, might as well die? You got a lot more to offer. Life is short. Don’t waste it.”


Directed by Matt Kane, Auggie is a quiet, contemplative science fiction movie about what it truly means to feel valued. Not feeling wanted or desired can really strip someone of their quality of life. Through Auggie, Felix taps into an alternate reality where he doesn’t have to suffer the same fate as his fellow retirees. Also it warns us how technology can make us lose grips with reality.

It will be easy to compare this film to Spike Jonze’s Her where Joaquin Phoenix plays a greeting card writer who develops a relationship with the voice of his personal computer. Both are good on their own merits but personally I found Auggie a much more approachable story. I love how the film shows both the projected companion, beautifully played by newcomer Christen Harper, and how strange it seems from the outside looking in as Felix, a wonderfully restrained performance by Richard Best, talks to someone who isn’t there. Weaving in Anne’s story, played by Susan Blackwell, shows how we can be lead astray by real life too.

Auggie is available on VOD from Samuel Goldwyn Films.

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