The movie debut from director Molly Manning Walker raises important questions about the grey area of consent, ITV News’ Arts Editor Nina Nannar reports
First-time British film director Molly Manning Walker’s How To Have Sex is the most talked about film of the season and, despite being her debut, it’s being hailed a career defining moment.
The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and received an eight-minute standing ovation.
Set in Crete, it follows a group of post-GCSE girls hellbent on partying and losing their virginity, and deals with the grey areas of consent.
Now, Manning Walker wants to take the film into schools to be taught as part of sex education.
She believes we need to change how we learn how to have sex – from consent to “empathy, understanding and good sex”.
The director returned to her former secondary school, Elthorne Park, in London, to screen the film to a group of students and get their feedback on the themes addressed in it.
One pupil commended the film for its relatability, and said: “From the beginning it felt like it could be you there, it didn’t feel fictional at all, it doesn’t feel fabricated.
“It feels like those are experiences that you or somebody else has had.”
Another student spoke on the importance of how the film could be used in schools and added: “When you turn 16, the age of consent, there’s alot of pressure to have sex and not everyone wants that at such a naive age.”
Although not autobiographical the film has taken some inspiration from Manning Walker’s personal experience.
At 16-years-old her drink was spiked and she was sexually assaulted. When she reported it to the police they allegedly told her not to bother prosecuting.
Manning Walker said that some of the cast and crew struggled to agree on whether certain scenes in the film were assault or not.
To inform her script the director held workshops around the country where she interviewed young people about their views on consent.
She told ITV News’ Arts Editor Nina Nannar that the film has led to people reaching out about their own experiences and others recognising their own problematic behaviour.
“It was amazing that we got celebrated at Cannes, but the main thing is has been people reaching out and saying that they have felt seen,” she said.
“Finally we are talking about this topic. Or young men saying they realise their actions, or even older men saying thank you for showing me myself and helping me change.”
How to Have Sex was released in cinemas on November 3.
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