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Touch Me Not

Screening on Film
Directed by Adina Pintilie.
With Laura Benson, Tómas Lemarquis, Christian Bayerlein.
Romania/Germany/Czech, 2018, DCP, color, 125 min.
English and German with English subtitles.
DCP source: Kino Lorber

The most unusual entry in this series, Touch Me Not has surprised, fascinated and agitated audiences since its debut, even upending the most recent Berlin Film Festival by winning the Golden Bear for Best Film. Part documentary, part fiction, part therapeutic performance art, the film gets under the skin by focusing precisely on that very surface. Within mostly sterile-looking, well-lit, lab-like environments, Adina Pintilie probes varying degrees of uncomfortability with one’s body, including her own, in this emotional and aesthetic experiment, allowing the fictional and staged elements to function as, in her words, “a protective space—that allowed us to safely explore some of the most vulnerable areas of our intimacy.” She concentrates on three characters: a middle-aged woman afraid of many levels of touch, a young man who lost all of his hair as a child, and a man with a severe disability who also has the healthiest outlook on his body and his sexuality. With graphic sexual situations and awkward levels of emotional exposure—requiring a marked degree of nakedness on behalf of both the actors and the non-actors—the film treads where few dare: whether it is exploring various fetishes inside a sex club, sharing a bed with a philosophical trans sex worker or simply witnessing a couple outside conventional standards of beauty take up significant screen space with a loving, sensual relationship.

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