This year’s 65th SFFFILM Festival added the self-proclaimed “unorthodoc” SELL/BUY/DATE to its massive lineup. The film follows Tony-winning performer and comedian Sarah Jones on her journey to get her one-woman show to the big screen. However, this is no easy task for Sarah. She faces criticism on social media platforms for her tales of sex workers she encountered growing up. She soon realizes that not consulting with people within the industry is problematic. Thus, she travels to find her answers to hear all viewpoints.
The controversy led Sarah from New York to Los Angeles and Nevada. She speaks to sex workers to better understand their experiences and lend their voices to be heard. Unshockingly, this group has famously lacked the proper representation, especially in the entertainment industry.
Jones also includes her original cast of characters from SELL/BUY/DATE, which she also plays, providing a different take on self-reflection. Her additional cast members include:
- Bella: college student studying sex work
- Lorraine: conservative Jewish grandmother
- Nereida: Puerto Rican/Dominican activist
- Rashid: rideshare driver and inspiring entrepreneur
Most of these interactions between Jones and her counterparts were devices used for humor. Still, the more significant revelations came from Bella and Nereida. They are on opposite sides of the spectrum regarding their views of sex work and ultimately push her towards areas Sarah never considered exploring.
A few celebrities also lend their time to the project, including Ilana Glazer, Rosario Dawson, and Brian Cranston. These actors lent support to Jones as they each offered their advice and their previous experiences on the subject matter.
Overall, SELL/BUY/DATE was an interesting look into sex work and the lives of sex workers. The film was refreshing and inventive; audience members can rarely see a person work out their own beliefs in front of a camera in relatively real-time.
We hear stories from a brothel to a strip club to an East Coast college dorm room. Jones allows this to uniquely show and weave together the main character’s journey. She motivates you to question how you approach the conversation between healthy sexuality and exploitation, including how there need to be improvements made to the current system of sex work.
Meryl Streep and Rashida Jones are attached as executive producers for SELL/BUY/DATE. Catch this at the 2022 SFFILM Festival on Sunday, April 24th, inside the Vogue Theatre at 5:30 PM.
Contributed by Andrew Snow