In a bid to dismantle taboos and rail against the expectation that women keep the details of their body private, BBC Three have commissioned ‘Body Language’, a four-part series of intimate visual essays that focus on some of the most isolating female reproductive health experiences.
‘Body Language’ is produced by PRETTYBIRD and directed by Sindha Agha. Sindha Agha is a Sundance Ignite and Sundance New Voices Fellow, and the filmmaker behind “Birth Control Your Own Adventure”, which was the New York Times’ most popular Op-Doc and officially selected for the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
The ‘Body Language’ series is composed of 4 x 5 minute films made for BBC Three’s YouTube
and Facebook channels, produced by Paulette Caletti and Executive Produced by Juliette Larthe at PRETTYBIRD.co. The series has been commissioned by Damian Kavanagh, Controller BBC Three, and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Navi Lamba.
‘Body Language’ will bring to the fore candid accounts of the health battles of four British women that re-examine the normalisation of pain, hormonal shifts and physical trauma. Over four episodes, the series will discuss conditions including painful sex, early menopause, endometriosis and maternal mental health.
The visually striking films utilise stop motion, collage and conceptual imagery to allow the serious, intimate first-person monologues the space to be told in a bright, appealing way with moments of unexpected humour.
Through the ‘Body Language’ films, director Sindha Agha illustrates the wrongful normalization of women's pain, how it leads to women becoming experts in resilience and enduring what they often shouldn't.
Sindha hopes that women who watch ‘Body Language’ will re-examine their personal histories, question whether or not they could be experiencing more peace in their bodies and minds, and seek the help they deserve. Her directorial goal with this series is to show women that they are understood, and they are not alone.
‘Body Language’ features as part of the BBC’s Hear Her season, a dedicated season of content across TV, radio and online to mark 100 years since suffrage and the centenary anniversary of women being able to vote in the UK. ‘Body Language’ will be available from Thursday 14th June on BBC Three’s YouTube and Facebook channels;
Sindha Agha released the following statement about the piece:
“I’m trying to create an external language for women’s innermost experiences. As women, I feel we’ve been led to believe that many of our experiences are indescribable, incommunicable; that even when we can figure out how to talk about what happens inside our bodies and our minds, that we’d better not — that others don’t want to hear it because it’s too gross, too sad, too strange. Above all, that we won’t be understood.
It’s true that people often don’t want to come near your grief — that’s why I worked with the subjects to create an unconventional style of documentary, using comedy and vivid imagery to find moments of humour and beauty while wading through these heartbreaking stories. My hope is that the style will compel those who typically wouldn’t to stop and listen, and that the visceral visuals will lead people to inhabit our bodies and minds for a few minutes, in turn building empathy for the way in which women still suffer on a massive scale from systemic injustices in healthcare.
My visual style draws upon my own experiences suffering from endometriosis. During episodes of severe pain, my brain changes lenses on me as my senses heighten. I started paying attention to the way things feel, sound, and look when I’m immobilised by pain, and this is how I built the language for these films. During the interviews with the women, I had them close their eyes from time to time and tell me what they saw in their stream of consciousness, playing around with free association to capture feelings and sensations most honestly.
I think there’s been a wrongful normalisation of women’s pain. For example, it’s absurd that women wait on average 7.5 years for endometriosis diagnoses when 1 in 10 women have the condition. Each of the subjects featured in the series struggled in some way to convince medical professionals that something was indeed wrong with them, which led to unnecessarily prolonged suffering — sometimes for over a decade before finally being believed by a doctor and receiving the treatment they needed.
Series Commissioned by Damian Kavanagh, Controller BBC Three
BBC Commissioning Editor: Navi Lamba
Director – Sindha Agha
Production – Prettybird
Producer – Paulette Caletti
Executive Producer – Juliette Larthe
Head Of Production – Hannah May
Director Of Photography – Neus Ollé
1st Assistant Camera – Mark Swaffield
Digital Image Technician – Ewan Macfarlan
Gaffer – Josie Williams
Art Director – Hayley Mcdonald
Art Department Assistant – Lois Tagg
Editor – Ellie Mcnaughtan
Offline Producer – Ella Sedgwick at Work Post
Sound Recordist & Designer – Helen Miles
Colourist – Jessica Vile
Flame Artist – Katie Rhodes
Post-Production Producer – Hannah Oliver at Framestore
Casting Director - Maxine Lankitus-Dunkley at Atmosphere Faces