Anny didn’t become a sex worker till she was 46, but since then, she’s kept returning to the streets of Prague, rain or shine, as cars pass by at a snail’s pace. Helena Třeštíková’s film crew also kept returning to Anny in the years from 1996 to 2012. This is the modus operandi of the Czech director (star guest at IDFA in 2018): she follows ordinary people for years in what she has dubbed “time-lapse documentaries.” These longitudinal projects also indirectly capture the larger lines of history—in this case, the economic crisis years that sometimes prompt Anny to muse on communism.
Anny puts a smile on her face for the camera, just as for her customers when she works as a restroom attendant. Smoothly edited shifts in time show her slowly growing older, and her life is often hard, filled with concerns about her grandchildren and her health. Grinning at the camera, she confesses she simply can’t manage to give up smoking: “Doctor, please forgive me!” Year in, year out, her life echoes in the anthem she sings at the sex work NGO Risk-Free Pleasure.