VANCOUVER — “Candice,” the much-anticipated documentary chronicling the life and career of Candida Royalle, the late feminist filmmaker and erotica pioneer, will have its film festival world premiere later this month.
“Candice,” directed by Sheona McDonald, will screen Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 12, at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver. The film “goes beyond the headlines to craft a layered portrait of the woman behind the icon, capturing [Royalle] in her sixties when, confronted with an ovarian cancer diagnosis, she is eager to tell her story in her words and to confront questions that have haunted her since childhood,” said a festival rep. “ ‘Candice’ is ultimately a tribute to a resilient woman who unapologetically carved her own path. The dialogue she brought forward on sex positivity and women’s sexual autonomy echoes far beyond the adult film industry.”
Selina Crammond, DOXA’s director of programming, spoke to the Vancouver Sun about McDonald’s efforts to create a personalized story of a woman who spent years standing in the glare of a spotlight, facing public scrutiny.
“What Sheona managed to do was a build a relationship with her over many years and capture a beautiful look at who she had become and some of her personal challenges and traumas,” said Crammond. “I think it is a really beautiful portrait of a woman worth celebrating.”
Royalle’s 1978 film “Hot and Saucy Pizza Girls,” the doc reveals, was among the first to use the pizza-delivery trope. However, Royalle — born Candice Vadala — realized “the patriarchy of porn could be challenged,” writes the Sun, “and soon she put her focus on producing movies rather than starring in them.” The result was Femme Productions, founded in 1984.
The “feminist porn” concept kept Royalle in the headlines for decades, but McDonald was determined to dig deeper with her film despite a shoestring budget of $70,000. “I think she is interesting to talk about because there is a lot there. I think it’s a complicated subject,” said McDonald. “It has four threads and that was part of the challenge and why it took so long. How do you weave these stories? … I kept coming back to the idea that it’s a good story — a story that should be told, so I kept picking it back up.”