Aka Ana (2008) - Antoine d'Agata
Renowned French photographer Antoine D'Agata's first feature-length work, Aka Ana, is a haunting visual essay of prostitution in Tokyo that should absolutely not be experienced by anyone who is easily offended by sexual imagery. Aka Ana is told through the eyes of six distinct voices, each prostitutes who open up their souls to the viewer, as D'Agata juxtaposing visually haunting imagery of these sex workers in their natural habitat, servicing clients and and shooting heroin, anything to escape the world they inhabit. Each woman brings a unique dynamic to Aka Ana. One woman feels empowered by sex and views it as a way of seizing power from the male ego, while another woman towards the end of the woman is emotionally shattered, essentially a souless body soaked in misery. Aka Ana has no agenda outside of showing prostituion for what it is, being a very raw depiction certainly explains its lack of distribution. My favorite aspect of Aka Ana is how it gives off an aura of male oppresion, as these woman unbare their souls against imagery that presents their world and viewpoint of the men, almost symbolic of the nature of the world right now. D'Agata is a documentary filmmaker with strong convictions, not afraid to assault the viewer with his films, pushing the viewer to experience thier limits as he presents an evocative portrait of art and life. Antoine D'Agata's Aka Ana reaches levels of intimacy in its subjects that few documentaries can match, offering a soul-shattering and haunting experience that I'll never forget.
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