Saturday, April 09, 2011

Open Letter to the Roxy Theater in Regards to cancelling a showing of 'Dead Hooker in a Trunk'

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Sylvia Soska and along with my twin sister, Jen, we own and operate Twisted Twins Productions. Our first film has received critical success the world over where it has played many film festivals and theaters to satisfied audiences. The film was the hard work of numerous talented Canadian film personalities as we all came together to create this film, almost everyone coming out with waived fees, simply because they love filmmaking. The film has been called a 'hidden gem in independent filmmaking' and has even garnered the recognition of acclaimed director, Eli Roth.

It is much to my shock and disgust that your theater - The Roxy Theatre - would look at none of this when terminating the Dark Bridges Film Festival because of complaints with the film's title - 'Dead Hooker in a Trunk.' Had anyone taken the time to actually watch the film, they would have seen a project filled with hardworking individuals that created a love letter throwback to the grindhouse films of the past. The story is a dark comedy that satires many horrific instances to give the audiences a sense of action-packed levity and excitement. The only scene where the actual horror of the situation is highlighted is when the title character meets her demise at the hands of an ignorant killer. The title character, despite what knee-jerk reaction the title stirs, is treated with reverence throughout the film by the group of twenty somethings as they struggle to give her a proper end. A level of respect that we don't often see given to these women in this particular trade.

I strongly implore you to reconsider this decision. In doing so, you are not only telling the public that destruction of private property and marketing materials is the best way to get a point across, but you are saying that the work and spirit behind the Canadian team that came together to make this film is unimportant to you and your theater, that you are not interested in promoting something independent that was made by an almost entirely Canadian team that has been celebrated the around the world in its tongue in cheek ingenuity. I hope that you will look at what the film actually is - a project written, directed, and produced by two women who worked with a tremendous team that is actually a lot of fun with some very heartfelt, strong messages throughout.

I believe that it would be a mistake to not show the film at your theater. It was removed for the wrong reasons and I hope that will be found upon closer investigation of the situation.

Sylvia Soska
Twisted Twins Productions


  1. I am right there with you Jen & Sylvia. A well written letter that I hope with cause the Roxy Theatre to reconsider their decision.

  2. In a context where there are hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada (many of whom are in the sex trade), this film response may have been out of pain - also given how many women are from Saskatchewan. Sex trade workers are still seen as disposable and the lack of resources going into the disappearances and deaths speaks to a larger systemic ambivalence towards violence against sex trade workers. I don't think your film needs to address all of that, but I hope you can understand why it is still very painful for many people.

  3. All of that may be true "Anonymous" but all of this reaction is based solely on the title of the film. The TITLE. The movie hasn't even been shown. That is the most ridiculous part of what has happened. I've seen Dead Hooker in a Trunk, there are so many far worse examples of violence toward not only women in the sex trade, but just women in general. I can't help but wonder how many of those have been shown in Canada and had no problem whatsoever because of generic or misleading titles. Seems to me that "not judging by it's cover" should apply not only to books.

  4. Hey Mister Bones: Yes, for sure, people are judging it for the title. I may judge any movie with "Dead Paki in the Trunk" as well. I get that the title was chosen to be jarring, but you have to expect people who are dealing with violence against sex trade workers to be offended and hurt. And this doesn't mean to say that many feminists or activists don't challenge narratives in other movies or cultural products. But when I first heard the title, all I could think was a big "fuck you" to the producers of the film, assuming they were hipster artists with no clue with what is going on. Reading a bit of the film, I get that the movie may not celebrate the murder of the sex trade worker (but also bring justice to her murder), but the title itself may bring reactions of humour or complacency. So yes, the title of the movie did prevent me from wanting to see it or read more about it - I wanted to dismiss it as another misogynist movie against sex trade workers. That may be closed minded of me - but i am not alone with the sensitivity around violence against sex trade workers.

    Again, I think the reaction is out of pain - and rather than be defensive, I think the producers should address that pain in an honest way. Because some of the stuff I have been reading just kind of paint them as insensitive.

    I don't think the movie should have been canceled. But independent film theatres that are accountable to their community can choose to show it or not. It also might be worthwhile for the producers of the film to perhaps reach out to organizations or people working around violence against women to get feedback as well, because I am assuming that this may not be the first time they receive this kind of reaction.

  5. Why should the theatre or the producers have to be accountable to you or anyone? If you find this offensive then don't watch the film! Pretty simple... If you are upset about how sex trade workers are treated then go out and help sex trade workers instead. Media of all kinds will always offend someone! Living in a country where people free to express themselves how they want means you are going to have to put up with being offended or else build yourself a walled community. You can't honestly expect everyone to think the same as you or else we would just be automatons. If people are already complacent enough to not care then a movie is not going to change that because people are the way they are. Instead of getting upset about other peoples supposed attitudes which you will never change maybe you should focus on finding people of like minds and forming a group to raise funds and take action to protect womens rights and freedoms....

  6. I haven't seen the film. That said, I have only an opinion about the Title and the Subject Matter.
    I personally think the title is extremely appropriate, when I think of satirical, over-the-top, stereotypical exploitation-film name for a grindhouseesque film... "Dead Hooker in a Trunk" kinda sums it nicely, well done on the title.
    Let's look at some other popular 'grind-film' names: Cannibal Holocaust, Death Race 2000, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, I Spit on Your Grave....
    notice something here?
    death and shock
    hell there's a whole subgenre of exploitation films called "Rape/Revenge" in which "a woman is raped, left for dead, recovers and then subsequently exacts a typically graphic, gory revenge against the person/persons who raped her."
    Carol J Clover, a feminist and a Professor in film studies at Berkeley has given support to these films. "Although these films seem to offer sadistic pleasure to their viewers, Clover argues that these films are designed to align spectators not with the male tormentor, but with the female victim—the "final girl"—who finally defeats her oppressor."
    I know it strays a little from the subject... but these films are usually for a little absurd adult entertainment... and yet a professional has taken the time to write a book about how they can be culturally beneficial??