BEYOND THE RED LIGHTF E A T U R E D O C U M E N T A R Y I N D E V E L O P M E N T
Lila is one of the only open trans sex workers in North Macedonia. Working for an underfunded sex workers' rights organisation, she must decide whether sacrificing her safety is worth the fight for her community.
Beyond The Red Light immerses us in the day-to-day life of Lila, the only open trans sex worker and face of transgender rights in North Macedonia. In a region where LGBTQ+ rights are non-existent, we follow Lila as she decides to stay in the Balkans to fight for her rights in a climate that oppresses her for the very nature of her identity.
Lila works for Star, an underfunded sex workers’ collective in the Balkans. After receiving a grant from the Red Umbrella Fund, their mission is to decriminalise sex work in North Macedonia by December 2022. ‘There is not one whore in Macedonia who doesn’t know me’, claims Lila. This trust underpins our journey into this country's underground world of activism and sex work.
The film meets Lila when she is at a crossroads. She recently was evicted for going public with her trans status on a major news channel. With one week to move out, this news coincides with a seminal event for Star; their first face-to-face meeting between sex workers and politicians. We follow Lila as she reveals how being the figurehead of a movement means sacrificing your safety, mental health and time. We follow Lila as she makes the difficult decision to choose herself, leaving Star to return to sex work, in order to fund her long-term goal – gender reassignment surgery.
why sex workers' rights?
Across the world, law enforcement and public officials routinely violate the human rights of sex workers. Sex workers are left without basic rights, and often hide their occupation from their loved ones due to the aggressive stigmas against them. Our characters face this tension on a daily basis; constantly battling between a pull to fight for their human rights, and the judgement faced by their family, media and general public. In the wake of COVID-19, the instability of sex work, and the safeguards surrounding it, became heightened. Without legal recognition as a ‘worker’, many sex workers relied on the help of organisations to supplement their income. We feel there is no better time to draw attention to this topic, as sex workers were forced to suffer consequences of not having a legitimate workers status.
Showing the sex worker beyond depictions of trafficking and victimisation, we want to shift the focus away from why individuals pursue a career in sex work. This film will challenge the audience’s perspective on sex work, questioning what these stereotypes do - and how productive they are.
Changing the mainstream narrative of sex work is at the core of our work.
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