Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography
Directed byBonnie Sherr Klein
Written byAndrée Klein
Bonnie Sherr Klein
Irene Lilienheim Angelico
Rose-Aimée Todd
Produced byDorothy Todd Hénaut
Mark L. Rosen
StarringLindalee Tracey
Bonnie Sherr Klein
CinematographyPierre Letarte
Edited byAnne Henderson
Music byGinette Bellavance
Sylvia Moscovitz
Distributed byNational Film Board of Canada
Esma Films
Release date
  • 11 September 1981 (1981-09-11) (TIFF)
Running time
69 minutes

Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography is a Canadian documentary film about the pornography industry, directed by Bonnie Sherr Klein and released in 1981.[1]

It remains one of the landmark works from Studio D, the women's unit of the National Film Board of Canada. The film was banned in the province of Ontario on the basis of its pornographic content, a decision that was later reversed.[2][3]

The film premiered at the 1981 Festival of Festivals.[1]


Film-maker Bonnie Sherr Klein and stripper (later journalist) Lindalee Tracy explore the world of pornography and build a case against it.[2] They interview porn actors, sex workers and notable feminists such as Margaret Atwood and Kate Millett.[4]



The film had a budget of $503,519 (equivalent to $1,440,370 in 2021).[5]


The film was banned in Saskatchewan. The Ontario Censor Board refused to classify it, resulting it not being allowed to be shown, but the film was seen by 40,000 people at 300 private showings in Ontario within the next year. The film became the NFB's highest-grossing film at that point in its existence after being shown in Montreal for nine months.[6] The film was retitled to A Film Against Pornography in the United Kingdom.[7]

Critical response[edit]

At the time, the local Canadian reviewers were hostile. The Globe and Mail called the film "bourgeois feminist fascism" and the Toronto Star judged it to be "a one-sided tract of outrage that only feminists and moral majority believers will take to their bosom".[8] Writing in the Village Voice, B. Ruby Rich dismissed the film as anti-porn propaganda.[9] Jay Scott criticized the film as an "unenlightening learn-a-long."[5]

Later reviewers and analysts have criticized the film for relying upon graphic sexual imagery, for focusing upon sex work rather than the porn industry and for not differentiating between straight and gay porn.[9]


  1. ^ a b Jay Scott, "Not a Love Story: sleazy peek at women and porn". The Globe and Mail, September 7, 1981.
  2. ^ a b Janis Cole, "Bonnie Sherr Klein". The Canadian Encyclopedia, January 18, 2012.
  3. ^ Wyndham Wise, ed. (2001). "Not a Love Story". Take One's Essential Guide to Canadian Film. University of Toronto Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0802083982.
  4. ^ Wise, Wyndham (January 9, 2011). "Not a Love Story: A Film about Pornography". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ a b Evans 1991, p. 282.
  6. ^ Evans 1991, p. 282-283.
  7. ^ Rodley 1997, p. 107.
  8. ^ Jackson, Marni (September 28, 1981). "The sound of many knees jerking". Maclean's.
  9. ^ a b Sullivan, Rebecca (2014). Bonnie Sherr Klein's 'Not a love story'. Canada: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442649880.

Works cited[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bart, Pauline B.; Freeman, Linda; Kimball, Peter (January 1985). "The different worlds of women and men: Attitudes toward pornography and responses to Not a Love Story—A Film About Pornography". Women's Studies International Forum. 8 (4): 307–322. doi:10.1016/0277-5395(85)90012-3.

External links[edit]