Las Hijas del Fuego - Fearless Dyke gang take on patriarchy (and win)
Kate Fahy, 7/4/20
“We are the granddaughters, the great granddaughters, the daughters and the sisters of those who put their art and their body, their territory and their landscape as heretic torches to light up a new sky. We are The Daughters of Fire.”
From the premise of Albertina Carri’s Las Hijas del Fuego (The Daughters of Fire, 2019), I was convinced that I was off to a winner. A queer-as-fuck ever-growing group of women go on a polyamorous orgy road trip around Tierra de Fuego Province, ‘the end of the world’, at the bottom tip of Argentina, rescuing childhood friends from hetero-patriarchal oppression. What’s not to love. Alas, I made the rookie error of setting up expectations and found myself taking a little time to get into the groove of this loose, free-flowing story. Its vague plot-line and character set up, and minimal dialogue is a little jarring, a little discomforting.
The film and spectator are blindly led by the poetic and poignant narration of central character Viole, a filmmaker who shares her ongoing thoughts and notes of a new film she wants to make - a porn film centred around queer female fantasy and erotica. When I finally removed my expectations, and let Las Hijas flow over me, I realised how perfectly wise and honest it was. It is everything that it says it is. The erotic fantasy film that Viole wants to write is the very film that sits before us; explorations of pleasure, fantasy, fetish, and desire are raw and honest, yet also just to the side of reality (sometimes further).
By its climatic (yes, sex-wise) ending, the film’s purist meaning suddenly appeared to me. It is a film about freedom. The clouds of my closed schematic mind parted and the wonder of Las Hijas presented itself in clarity. In form, content, and message, the film sings freedom and expression. It follows its own rules in terms of form, narrative structure, and conventional filmic expectations, and also in terms of on-screen representation – I have never seen sex scenes like this before, ever. It is brave, brash, and real (‘real’ stretches to real bodies, real lives, and real fantasies). The content, too, champions freedom, and the right to freedom, in body, in expression, and in pleasure. By the film’s mid-point, the characters have formed a fearless queer crew, travelling in a stolen van adorned with chains, whips, and dildos, doing and being whatever and whoever the fuck they want, and confronting (not just confronting but defeating) that/those which seek to suppress them from being their free selves.
The closing scene of Las Hijas takes us to a lusciously filthy sex party. A personal highlight of the entire film is when a woman on roller skates donning a Mexican wrestler mask and not much else slides from room to room, orgy to orgy, offering guests their pick of dildos and toys served on a silver platter. The camera glides through the house before setting on a woman (the only clothed person we see) who wears a black dress with pills sewn to it as if they were sequins. It is Rosario, who usually plays the stone dom in the group. Rosario is sensitive and overwhelmed by the energies of others (this is possibly the most lesbian thing I have ever heard), and therefore can only have sex alone. We watch her leave the party alone to sit on a red chair and put headphones on as she begins to masturbate. The scene behind her clears and she is finally alone to be intimately with herself, her body and her pleasure.
Las Hijas ends with Rosario’s satisfaction, and although undeniably sexual, the satisfaction that the viewer is left with, is that of the soul and the heart. The film screams that our desires and our expressions of self are valid, and nothing has the right to stop them, quash them, or belittle them. We must be bold and defiant, just like The Daughters of the Fire.
Las Hijas del Fuego is available to stream on MUBI.
Daniella and I have both written a review for this film. Daniella’s previous film work and research has focused on the representation of women in porn, and the problematic gaze. After watching Las Hijas I couldn’t wait to see her take on it.
Daughters of Fire - a radical sex odyssey
Daniella Verektenidi, 7/4/20
I’m going to start by saying; this film is not for everyone. There will be queer feminists which will look at this film with disgust as well as anyone else. Would it have anything to do with the fact that what essentially this film is, is pornography? Yes most certainly. The stance feminists have taken on pornography throughtout the movement has varied. Most notably around the golden years of pornography in 70s, with Andrea Dworkin and the WAP organisation (Women Against Pornography). WAP was in a recurring conflict with sex positive feminists, that were seeing their efforts targeting the wrong enemy. WAP of course had relevant points. Pornography as we all know it has been made by and for the straight white male gaze for as long as it has existed - but what medium hasn’t? Objectification issues towards the female body have been part of film, TV, writing and so on. That is why representation and using our own voices is important. To change and drive our own narratives. That surely is applicable to pornography as well?
Ancient Greeks saw greek drama as a tending to the soul. Looking at it linguistically, they had two words for entertainment. Entertainment and Psychagogia. The latter one stemming from ψυχή ("soul") and αγωγία ("guidance"), means the tending of the soul. Art is not seen as to have mere entertainment value, it is meant to provide you with more substance, ways to see and unsee things and beliefs - a catharsis. Here is were the inevitable problem in terms of pornography arises. There are several definitions of pornography, which has been evolving throughout. The main stance however is that pornography is a medium used to create arousal and ultimately release. There is no space within it that would create contemplation, in the way art would. Hence, pornography cannot be art. Can you tend to your soul whilst tending to your body? Do we consider sexualility, desire and pleasure separate to the wellbeing of our mind? I would argue that they go hand and hand. Looking beyond that however, there are also examples of pornographic films that can encapsulate both psychagogia and sexual release. This film being an example of this.
Daughters of Fire ( Albertina Carri, 2018), is a sexual journey into the limitless female desire. A fantasy that is unfolding unapologetically in front of us; women making love to women. Bodies intertwined, becoming part of nature and beyond. Reaching a high, a climax that greek gods would envy. At the same time, it says a big fuck you to patriarchy, to the male gaze, to sociatal norms, religion - all the while being kind and loving to one another. It is a good radical fuck.
You can find it currently at MUBI.
If you want to explore more “art pornography”, here’s a couple of links for your kinks.🌹️
Elin Magnusson, SKIN - Baring yourself naked figuratively and metaphorically can be a challenge worth overcoming.
Jacquie Ray, High Creatives Film - Jacquie is an LA based “art porn photographer”, her work; a pleasure filled lollipop.
P.S. yes, this is a summary of my MA thesis.