FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2020 SCREENING – I suppose a film like MORGANA should come with a content warning – and therefore so should my review. If raw, unashamed sexuality is a problem for you, MORGANA isn’t the film for you. There’s overt sexual imagery and language, discussion of female anatomy, female desires, and plenty of discussion of what it’s like to be learning your desires after your “peak”. If you can’t get with this, carry on – and let the rest of us enjoy the sheer magic of MORGANA.
Adult filmmaker “Morgana Muses” had a less-than-conventional journey to erotic stardom. After twelve years of celibacy, a failed marriage, and a date with a male escort, Morgana pivoted from one extreme to the other. One moment she was ready to drive off into the woods somewhere and kill herself. After one weekend of sexual freedom, as Morgana says, “someone flipped the switch, and the power came on, and I just felt like I came alive.” From that moment on, Morgana grabbed her life by the balls – sometimes literally – and dedicated herself to discovering herself, her sexuality, and exploring her need for pleasure.
MORGANA follows several years of Morgana’s life – from the highs of getting awards and being acclaimed as the spectacular marvel she is, to the lows of mental illness and struggling with self worth. MORGANA is brutally, painfully honest, cheeky, and beautiful. The honesty with which she speaks is groundbreaking, heart wrenching, and all too familiar to anyone who has struggled with themselves and their worth. And at the same time, she feels almost otherworldly – as though she’s too big, too vibrant, and too real for boring old planet earth. The world isn’t ready for Morgana – not on the large scale – but for Morgana, it isn’t about the world. Her journey is for her and her alone, and she faces it with grace.
MORGANA provides an absolutely unabashed look at what most of the world would like to ignore – the erotic and sensual needs of a woman past her “prime”. There’s no attempt to hide the stretch marks, scars, love handles, and wrinkles. Morgana doesn’t pretend to be something she is not. She stands strong in her power – as a woman, as a mother, as a sexual being. Be ready for intense erotic imagery – she is an adult filmmaker after all – but know that as I watched I was struck by the honesty and vulnerability – not by the sex. It’s incredible to see a film about porn, featuring porn, be almost completely non-pornographic. Don’t get me wrong – MORGANA is not safe for work. But just like everything about Morgana herself – if you don’t judge a book by its cover, and look past your prejudices, you’ll see something bigger and more beautiful than you could possibly imagine.
While I could gush about the content of MORGANA for ages, I wouldn’t want to miss some key factors that pushed this film from delightful into something extraordinary. MORGANA is directed and filmed by Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess. Both remarkable artists and creators in their own right, their relationship with Morgana – and their love for her – comes through in every frame of this documentary. Josie is the other half of Morgana’s company, Permission4Pleasure, and clearly a very crucial piece of her life puzzle. The love with which she shoots Morgana is palpable, and drives us to love Morgana even more. The use of miniatures and artful photoshoots and still imagery adds a childlike, but deeply profound quality to this very adult tale.
MORGANA the film is like Morgana the woman – beautiful, individual, intense in nearly every way, and exactly the kind of voice I want to be leading the way in feminism and film, for decades to come. To put it in as few words as possible – I’m in love with this film, and my hope is that you will be too.