Bonnie Sherr Klein’s “Not a Love Story” provocatively examines the first Canadian film to explore pornography’s role in society from a feminist perspective. Directed by Bonnie Sherr Klein for Studio D, the National Film Board’s women’s unit, the film featured both Klein and Lindalee Tracey, an activist, performance artist, and stripper, as they toured the seamier fringes of pornography and sex work in Montreal, Toronto, New York, and San Francisco. Censored in Ontario upon its release in 1981, Not a Love Story collided with the escalating “Porn Wars” that contributed to the tearing apart of the second-wave feminist movement.
Using interviews with members of the crew and extensive archival research into the production process, Rebecca Sullivan delves into the creation and reception of Not a Love Story to explore the issues of censorship, sexual labour and performance, and documentary practice that the film raised. An insightful analysis not just of the film itself but of the issues which surround feminist analyses of pornography as a genre, Bonnie Sherr Klein’s “Not a Love Story” offers a fresh assessment of Canada’s women’s movement and the politics of feminist filmmaking during a volatile era.