Sex work is not a topic that often comes up in light conversation, but festival organisers Michela Turno and Altea Alessandrini want to change that. I went along to the packed-out opening film, 1987 work Personal Services starring Julie Walters, to chat to them and the guest speakers. I wanted to get a sense of the motivations behind the festival and what makes this representation of the sex industry so important.
Before the screening, I spoke to Michela, the founder of Firefly Leicester, a community interest company that aims to explore social stigmas through cultural means such as theatre, film and dance. She explained to me her hopes for the festival: to start conversations about this most taboo of subjects, and to raise awareness of how prejudice against sex workers can all too frequently translate into violence and abuse.
It was her priority, she says, to select films that would explore different facets of the controversial sex industry.