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HomeEntertainmentCannes 2024: Sean Baker aims to destigmatize sex work with 'Anora'

Cannes 2024: Sean Baker aims to destigmatize sex work with ‘Anora’

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Director Sean Baker premiered his new film Anora at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday (21), a darkly comedic drama centered on a young exotic dancer’s unlikely relationship with a wealthy Russian’s son.

Baker’s stated goal is to challenge the stigma surrounding sex work. “It’s a modern-day career that deserves respect,” he said. “In my ideal world, it would be decriminalized, allowing individuals the freedom of choice,” he added.

 

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Baker’s fascination with the adult film industry began during research for his 2012 film Starlet. “There are countless untold stories within that world,” he remarked. Anora is Baker’s latest entry in a series of films exploring sex work, following Red Rocket (2021) and The Florida Project (2017). He has expressed plans to continue delving into this theme.

“We’re already brainstorming the next project, and it features a sex worker as well,” he revealed.

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The film stars Mikey Madison as the titular Anora, a dancer who encounters Vanya, the immature son of a powerful Russian oligarch, while working at a strip club. Vanya (played by Mark Eydelshteyn) impulsively hires Anora as his girlfriend for a week, whisking her away on his private jet to Las Vegas where they get married.

This outrageous move infuriates Vanya’s parents, who travel from Russia determined to have the marriage annulled.

 

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Critical reception for Anora has been positive. The Guardian awarded the film a stellar four out of five stars, while The Hollywood Reporter called it “a highly enjoyable watch, offering insightful commentary on class disparity, privilege, and the wealth gap.”

Regarding the filming of intimate scenes, Madison emphasized a collaborative approach that incorporated the actors’ input. She opted against using an intimacy coordinator or a stunt double. “Filming those scenes, including the lap dances, was actually quite fun,” Madison said.

While acknowledging the value of intimacy coordinators who safeguard actors during scenes involving nudity or sexual activity, Baker expressed confidence in directing such scenes without one. “Our top priority remains ensuring the safety, comfort, and involvement of our actors throughout the entire process,” he concluded.

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