Sex Sells

It’s the fall of 2020. Lockdowns and restrictions have been released in the Netherlands, but the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has left sex worker Ellen in debt with a pimp. Determined to win back her independence she goes on a date with Evert, a reclusive salesman who actually prospered during the pandemic. The two loners connect at first, but once Ellen finds out how Evert made his fortune a perfectly pleasant evening takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

  • Rudi Brekelmans
  • Rudi Brekelmans
  • Rudi Brekelmans
  • Nienke van Boom
  • Kate Ubbink
  • Astrid van Eck
    Key Cast
  • Wim Willaert
    Key Cast
    "Evert Schuit"
  • Duncan Meijering
    Key Cast
  • Ton Vorselaars
    Director of Photography
  • Lotte Loos
    Production Design
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Thriller, Erotic, comedy, Drama, Covid
  • Runtime:
    33 minutes 7 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    52,500 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • L.A. Shorts International Film Festival 2022
    Los Angeles
    United States
    July 22, 2022
    Official World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Film By The Sea 2022
    Dutch Première
    Winner Best Short Film
  • Independent Days International Filmfest 20223
    April 19, 2023
    German premiere
    Official Selection, Nominated for Best Film Composer: Rudi Brekelmans
  • Lift-Off Global Network 2022
    Winner Audience Choice Award
  • Rome Independent Cinema Festival 2022
    Official Selection, Finalist
  • FIC Autor 2022
    Official Selection
  • Cannes Court Métrage 2022
  • Split International Festival of New Film 2022
    Official Selection
  • Serbest International Film Festival
    Moldova, Republic of
    Quarter Finalist
Director Biography - Rudi Brekelmans

Rudi Brekelmans (1977) is a screenwriter turned director. He has written several short films - both live action and animation - of which the short western animation 'Bullet Time' was the Dutch entry for the 2018 Academy Awards.

Rudi debuted as a director with 'Medulla' (2018), a dark psychological thriller about a misogynist psychiatrist who treats a female client whose liberated attitude becomes an obsession to him. The film is shot in 4:3 and in black and white. Rudi wrote, directed, produced and edited the film. He built the soundscape of the film purely from the actors voices. Medulla premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival where it was nominated for best directorial debut.

Despite the film being released during the Covid pandemic Medulla won several awards and festival selections and nominations. It's especially popular around the independent arthouse film circuit.

In February of 2022 Rudi released his second independent film 'Sex Sells'. Switching to a bright colour palette and a scope widescreen aspect ratio the film depicts the struggles of an independent sex worker during Covid times. Again Rudi wrote, directed, produced and edited. Being a musician/composer this time he also wrote, recorded and produced the original soundtrack.

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Director Statement

Sex Sells was conceived around the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, when the very first lockdown was put into place. The Dutch Film Fund wanted to support filmmakers during uncertain times and devised a Covid Lockdown trajectory. Filmmakers were asked to submit ideas for films that were inspired by the pandemic and the lockdown situation. I was inspired to create something, but I wanted to make a film that would last beyond the pandemic, so I started looking for ideas.

The idea for Sex Sells came from contradictory reports in the media. I read that sex workers were struggling, being unable to work and not having easy access to funding to compensate for their losses. On the other hand I read about a booming sex industry as sex toys were in high demand during lockdown. These are the kinds of contrasts that I find fascinating. How do we deal with circumstances like this, when our surroundings create a dichotomy that through no fault of our own, puts us at a disadvantage.

I created two loners. Two people who've been forced throughout their lives to be fiercely independent. So they connect on that level. I made them represent both sides of the sex industry and where one of them has lost everything, including her independence, the other one has had great financial success on the back of Covid. But underneath, both of them carry a much deeper trauma, which is brought to the surface during their date.

Due to insufficient funds I had to do a lot of work on the film myself, which means it was finally released in February 2022, over a year later than the events depicted on screen. The fact that it still carries its weight is testament to the fact that the film is about loneliness and deep wounds and that the pandemic is just the catalyst that brings this to the forefront.