Spit and Ashes

Spit & Ashes

Maria Beatty / United States / 2018 / 73 min

“Spit and Ashes” is a reimagining of the historical violence waged against women by patriarchal forces in the name of religion, medicine and family. The High Priestess embodies the wild, sexual and grotesque – the un-tamable hunger of female desire and the ultimate threat to male power. The Midwife is the spirit of all women who sought knowledge and agency over their own bodies and paid for their agency with their lives. Through a series of erotic and brutal rituals these women come together to reclaim their bodies and prepare for the fight ahead.


Director Biography – Maria Beatty

For the past twenty five+ years, Maria Beatty has produced and directed films on the cutting edge of art, porn and eroticism. She is a precursor to the so called new wave of “alt-porn”.
She is renown for her exploration into the depths of female sexuality, fantasy, fetish and sm. Her vision is inspired by expressionist German cinema, French surrealism, American film noir and gay underground filmmakers such as Jean Genet and Kenneth Anger, setting new standards in erotic cinema.

After a start in the eighties as a fashion photographer and photographer for music labels, she started shooting in Super 8 experimental short-movies profiling eccentric women and transexuals living in her neighborhood then, on the Lower East Side of New York City.

In 1989, she directed her first film entitled “Gang of Souls” a documentary exploring the insights and influence of the Beat poets on the future artistic rock and poetry scene. Some of the artists featured in this film include- William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jim Carroll, Marianne Faithfull, Richard Hell, Lydia Lunch and Henry Rollins… while working as a curator in a cultural media center programming videos by minorities and activists (gays, lesbian, women, blacks,…)

Soon after, she directed two additional documentaries about women and the use of their bodies as a powerful tool through performance art. The first one entitled, “Sphinxes Without Secrets” (1991) presents some of the most engaging work produced by women performance artists: Diamanda Galas, Carolee Schneemann, Holly Hughes, Annie Sprinkle…and the following one “Sluts and Godesses” (1992) explores the slut and goddess side(s) of female sexuality. Simultaneously, she was in the process of digging deeper into the world of sado-masochism and the secret dungeon spaces where these fantasies and bds&m desires are usually played out in.

From 1995 and onward, she conceived her first fetish film, “The Elegant Spanking”, shot in black and white, without spoken words and accompanied with experimental music and sound composed by John Zorn, where she performs as a submissive “bottom” maid in an s/m relationship with another woman and her mistress lover at the time. The following film in 1997, “The Black Glove”, quickly became a cult-film in. That same year she started her own distribution company, Bleu Productions, and since then she produced, directed and edited over thirty fetish lesbian s/m films. She has performed in a few of her movies live performances on stage and featured performing in the documentaries: “Didn’t Do It For Love” by Monika Treut and “Fetishes” by Nick Broomfield.

Her films have been presented internationally in festivals and museums (The Whitney Museum, The Museum of Modern Art of New York, The New Museum of New York, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art…).
She has been interviewed for TV (Canal Plus, “La Nuit Gay” 2002- France , “Le Journal du Hard” 1996- France; Channel 13- NY, USA; TPS Star ” En attendant Minuit”, October 2007- France) and “Inspired”, a documentary about the making-off of her fetish film “Ecstasy in Berlin, 1926”, which was produced and aired on the French-German Television Channel ARTE, in May 2004.

Several retrospectives of her works have been presented at:
Amsterdam Erotic Film Festival, 2009, Holland; “Flesh, Fetish, Fragment: A Romance, Film in the Cities” St Paul, Minneapolis, USA; Fetish Film Festival, 1999 and 2000, Paris, France; Lille Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, 2002, France; Barcelona International Short Film Festival, 2005, Spain; Athens Erotic Film Festival, 2005, Greece; Seattle Erotic Film Festival, 2005, USA; Berlin Porn Film Festival, 2006, Germany.

“Boy in a Bathtub” (coproduced by Soft Focus Productions and Bleu Productions USA), a story of a older prostitute locking a young man up in her boudoir and feminizing him, co-written with Claire Menichi and shot in New York on High Definition in 2006, was her first foray into feature length filmmaking. Maria Beatty frequently collaborates with her partner and french writer Claire Menichi, whose writings deal with dark sexuality, body metamorphosis and romanticism.

Beatty’s “Belle de Nature”, a short movie about nature and erotism with Paraiso Films (french production company) and France 2 TV, “Bandaged”, a lesbian fetish erotic feature film which had it’s world premiere at the London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, March 2009.

Beatty’s film collection and short film commissioned and featured in the upcoming Larrieu Brother’s long metrage (feature film) “The Last Days of the World” and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, 2009.