Can you ignore your raw desires?
ABSTINENCE is a visceral drama that intimately explores the human condition – an anthology series constructed from stories of characters in different regions of the world. Their sexuality and intimacy as vulnerable subjects represents the unpredictable behavior inside each one of us.
As living beings in social systems, what prevents us as from breaking all boundaries of morality when it comes to topics like sexuality or intimacy? We think we want sex, but it’s not always about that. Following the rules of our society, we have developed notions of sexual pleasure that are disconnected from what we really want: intimacy.
The social norms governing the expression of sexuality vary with time, culture and circumstance; there are sexual behaviors that are well-regarded in the past or in some societies, but rejected in others. The characters in ABSTINENCE embody human sexuality, living in a world rich with sensation and pleasure, where they can actually refuse or accept sexual intercourse, which keeps them away from true intimacy. Their fates drive the series, not only through their story arcs, but also through the particular audiovisual environments featured in these stories. In many ways, the worlds on screen are at odds with each other. The characters feel alienated in their societies, they are the weird pieces that don’t fit, people with suppressed identities who break the rules that society has established.
Composed of eight episodes that deal with human sexuality even in its most basic forms, ABSTINENCE pivots around the universal theme of desire and the moral complications that arise when one seeks catharsis through sex. In the first episode, »Human by Law«, a young Colombian lawyer is chosen to be part of the defense team in a rape case that drags on for several years. She is forced to face the opposite side of the law and question her own morals in a society that doesn’t really care about its victims and punishes those who break the rules without remorse. In »Negative Therapy«, a photojournalist from Turkey is fired and blacklisted for opposing the country’s political ideas. Forced to work under a pseudonym to make ends meet, she begins selling voyeur photographs in the underground art market that craves for vulnerability inside the intimacy of others.
On the other side of the world, »Foul Play« depicts a college dropout in the middle of Tokyo, who encounters competition with his side business, a »Dirty Panty« vending machine. Declaring war on his turf, the outcast begins a thrilling battle for his niche business against a mysterious woman, who runs it just for fun. Or take »The Messiah and Sin«: A German anthropologist’s life-long quest is fulfilled when he is accepted to enter and study a remote Amazonian tribe in the deep rainforest. The backward community is not what the academic expected. After a rebellious sinful act committed by the leader’s daughter, the entire tribe renounces its spiritual beliefs, which also govern their natural way of life.
Just like in these stories, all episodes challenge their protagonists to explore their deepest, darkest thoughts and plant the seeds for giving in to their own desires. Can you ignore yours?
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