Friday, November 9, 2012

Scarlet Road

Every now and then a film comes along that really affects me in some way or another.  This is one of them.  So, a rare film review on my blog....  I had the privilege to meet the subject of this film the other night, and have to say she's even more incredible in person than she is on film.  If you get the chance to see this one, leap at it.  It'll change your life.


Australia, 2011
Running Length: 75 minutes
Cast: Rachel Wotton, Saul Ibister
Director:  Catherine Scott

With feature film The Sessions about to be released, the timing could not be better for this fascinating documentary about Sydney based sex worker Rachel Wotton.

Wotton’s client base includes people with disabilities and the film takes an in depth look at her role in the lives of these people, some of whom have severely limited ability to move.  Two of her clients allow the camera into their homes during their sessions and their honest assessment of what Rachel’s services bring to their lives is the central core of the film.

As well as being a sex worker, Wotton is an advocate for the sex business and the decriminalization of prostitution.  In Sydney, where she lives and works, prostitution is legal, but further north, in Queensland, where her partner lives, it is not.  During the film she travels to Europe to speak at a conference and meets up with a Swedish sex worker who outlines the way Swedish law makes a client who hires a sex worker a criminal.

It could be said that the film is one sided, only focusing on the positive aspects of the world’s oldest profession.  But the film maker never states she is making a case for all sex workers.   Rather, the film is firmly about Rachel and her experiences.  And yes, they probably are different to those of other sex workers.  Rachel is intelligent, confident and driven to succeed.  She was instrumental in forming Touching Base, an advocacy group for the disabled.  She also states her ambition to open a not-for-profit brothel for the disabled.

What shines through more than anything else, is Wotton’s love for life and her respect for humanity.  Prostitution is still looked down on and sex workers are discriminated against on a daily basis.  So are those with disabilities.  By giving those with physical and mental limitations the chance to touch and be touched by another person, Rachel is giving them the opportunity to feel whole and human.

This is an inspiring documentary about someone who should be admired, not maligned.  I came out wishing I was as strong, confident and selfless as Wotton.  It would have been interesting to find out more about her background and what made her chose this particular course for her life.  We meet her mother, but she never says what she thinks of her daughter’s choices or offers any insight into her childhood.

The film runs the gamut of emotion with laugh-out-loud moments paired with infuriating ones.  The saddest scene is one in which the mother of a man with Cerebral Palsy speaks frankly about hiring a sex worker for her son.  But overall, the film is an inspiring and uplifting one.  And Rachel Wotton is a figure to be admired.


  1. How have I not heard of this? I'm going to blame my lack of power and Hurricane Sandy, though it might really be the writing bubble I've been in.

    1. It hasn't been screened many places, but if you look it up on the web, I'm sure you can order a copy.