Henri Charbakshi labor of love

In the mid-Seventies, when porno chic still held sway, fledgling director Henri Charbakshi found backers for his now-lost first feature, The Last Affair—an art-house-inflected story about prostitution—with the proviso that he include hardcore sex scenes. Reluctantly he agreed; surprisingly, his cast of first-time performers and more seasoned Chicago theater actors (including Betty Thomas and Ron Dean) stayed on. Filmmakers Robert Flaxman and Daniel Goldman arranged with Charbakshi to film this behind-the-scenes documentary and avoided Affair’s main narrative, focusing instead on the discomfort of the cast and crew in handling the X-rated scenes. A combination of vérité footage of the shoots and interviews with the director, actors, cinematographer, and makeup man uncover a range of attitudes, personality conflicts, negotiations, and inadequacies (a surprising “stand-in” is revealed for a sex scene). Labor is a compelling, often humorous look at human foibles erupting when faced with the most human of acts.