2016 American Documentary Film Festival SnapShots: Skin and Bones
by Miriam Blume
Director Michael Dinesen’s new documentary film, “Skin And Bones” is at times hard to watch. Without being gratuitous or obscene, he’s an adept filmmaker who knows how to be respectful with his lens yet at the same take us to a place that makes us a little uncomfortable. Any film that has us confront the topic of sex and the disabled is going to do that, but what’s unexpected is the heart-warming compassion and optimism that’s so palpable it envelops you long after the closing credits.
At the center of the film are three young Danish men planning a trip to Berlin to visit a brothel for some much-desired sex. That could be the plot line for any coming of age film, except these men have Muscular Dystrophy. Thanks to advances in medicine, they are, in fact, the first generation to live with the disease into adulthood. It’s a blessing that brings with it a new dilemma and their story shows us that even the most basic human needs of love and intimacy are politically controlled when you’re confined to a wheelchair and dependent on publically funded medical care.
The irony is that prostitution is legal in Denmark, but the law prohibits caregivers from facilitating meet-ups between prostitutes and the physically disabled. In essence, what’s legal for the able-bodied man is illegal for the handicapped one. The film doesn’t get caught up in the misguided political paternalism of it all, but instead uses the sex trip to Berlin as a window into the lives of these three friends and how they navigate the complexities of their physical condition in order to fulfill some of the joy inherent in the human condition. Together they find vitality for life and live it to the fullest.
Far from being a film about prostitution or its advocacy, this is a film that sheds a tender insight into the unyielding strength of the human spirit, the gift of compassion and the bonds of friendship.
The film makes its Southern California premiere as part of the American Documentary Film Festival, March 31st to April 4th, Palm Springs CA. Discount Early Bird Passes to the festival are available now online at www.americandocumentaryfilmfestival.com.
The American Documentary Film Festival, powered by Renova Solar, is a Palm Springs Cultural Center program.