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Under The Red Umbrella Examines Sex Work in the Face of FOSTA-SESTA

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Sex work is the world’s oldest profession, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Often shrouded in a haze of stigma, judgement, and misunderstanding, it’s history and present is often sensationalized, marginalized, or completely silent. However, in the age of FOSTA-SESTA, silence is no longer an option we can accept. As sex workers live in the face of this incredibly dangerous body of legislature, it is critical that people listen and learn from their experiences.

It is here that Bambi Katsura, a Bay Area-based film maker, has turned their lens on people working in the sex industry. Under The Red Umbrella shares real, personal stories of the stigma, criminalization, and deathly real dangers of working in the dawn of FOSTA-SESTA.

I sat down with Bambi to discuss their film, philosophy, and how critical it is for attention to be brought to the very real, and very dangerous threat FOSTA-SESTA has nationwide.

Kit Friday: What prompted you to focus on FOSTA-SESTA and sex workers in your documentary?

Bambi Katsura: I love to read books and watch movies, and there’s a lack of media about sex work from the perspective of workers. I read a lot of Angela Davis, and she talks about the importance of creating a collective historical consciousness in society and in movements. At the time I started this project, I felt that was really lacking in our knowledge around sex work, so I set out to make a documentary focused on the history of sex work. Once FOSTA-SESTA passed, it was a natural progression to focus on the real-life impact of FOSTA-SESTA.

KF: Who are you getting to participate in this project?

BK: We’re speaking with current workers and organizers, advocates, and activists.

KF: What cities, or states, are you interviewing people in?

BK: We’ve been interviewing folks in California, and we’d love to travel all over. Our travel is dependant on budget, crowdfunding, and grants. As of this moment, we’ll be interviewing sex workers in New York, Washington DC, Baltimore, Massachusetts, and New Orleans. If the budget allows, we’ll also be talking to people in Illinois, Philadelphia, Nevada, Texas, and Florida.

KF: What impact do you hope Under The Red Umbrella has?

BT: I’m hoping it reduces stigma and increases conversations. I hope it changes people’s minds about sex workers, and the perceptions they have about them. Both people and the media are constantly dehumanizing sex workers, and it’s fucked up. I’m hoping that this documentary will be educational for people who are not familiar with sex work and push them to examine their own biases.

This documentary is also for the sex work community. I want to present an accurate representation of this amazing community and uplift the voices of the brilliant folks who are organizing and serving their communities.

KF: What is the best way that folks can help contribute to your film?

BT: We have an Indiegogo campaign that’s running until mid-June, which is a great way to contribute. People can also donate directly through our website. Follow us on social media and re-post our posts! Also, donate to your local sex worker organizations and give directly to people who are doing the work!

No matter what your feelings on sex work is, this will be an eye-opening, humanizing documentary on the climate that sex workers in the United States are currently working in. It’s a topic that demands your attention, and your support. To help get Under the Red Umbrella the funding it needs, donating here.

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Kit Friday -Mild in the Streets

I am a writer, DJ, musician, vandal and I travel a lot.