The director of the Balls documentary is Nico Stagias. We produce a lot of content together and Nico is most often my cinematographer and co-producer. We sat down recently to discuss his experience directing this new film…
Interview with Balls documentary director, Nico Stagias
CHARLIE: You’ve created such an in depth film about testicles. Why was it important for you to make it a holistic exploration of balls to share during Testicular Cancer Awareness Month?
NICO: With our preliminary research and first interviews, it became clear that a discussion around balls needed to happen, particularly when it came to men’s health. Often a symbol of masculinity, as indicated with expressions like “grow a pair” and “she’s got balls”, they are perhaps the least talked about organ of the male body. They are relegated to be the penis’ “unattractive” and “ignored” male cousins.
Men tend to shy away from discussion about their balls, especially if they are experiencing medical issues like cancer, torsion or varicocele. Because men are so guarded about their balls, they often dismiss potential testicular ailments and only address the situation when it becomes critical; when it’s too late.
Men, especially boys, are not encouraged to speak openly about their bodies, particularly if it is to discuss its vulnerability. As one of our subjects in the Balls documentary states: “Let’s just grab a couple of beers and forget about it”.
The Balls documentary aims to engage an open and honest dialogue about balls, and sometimes a lack thereof. Balls need to be brought into the everyday, from illness to art and everything in-between.
While creating the Balls documentary, I couldn’t help but think that this concept of how masculinity is broken and in much need of repair. This 1950’s illusion of what it is to be a paternalistic provider is coming apart. Masculinity as it stands, is not serving men, women or people who fall within the gender spectrum.
We’ve associated masculinity with physical strength and power, but we have not given it the emotional strength and vulnerability it needs to survive holistically. Somehow, our current definition about masculinity does not include: weakness, patience, gentleness, inclusiveness, queerness and femininity.
A new definition of masculinity needs to involve a tempered strength, a masculinity that listens and adapts to the new world. Masculinity cannot be fixed. It needs to adapt, otherwise, we are doomed to fail as “men”, over and over again.
In the Balls documentary, perhaps this new masculinity is mostly seen through the eyes of queer men and trans people. Perhaps this specific environment is a circumstance of me being a queer man, or perhaps queer people have more courage to discuss their balls and the notion of masculinity more vulnerably.
Perhaps this new restructuring of masculinity needs to speak more directly to our heterosexual counterparts. Though to say queer people have figured-out masculinity would be incorrect. As queer folk, we’ve often had to look outside the definitions of masculinity and femininity to make room for ourselves, but in many ways, we still get lost in heteronormative binaries. It may seem simple, but it’s such a challenge to think outside 2 boxes. Man/Woman. Gay/Straight. Black/ White. Strong/Weak.
In today’s episode of the Balls documentary we meet Peter who shares the story of how testicular cancer has impacted his life.
April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month and to celebrate we’re sharing our Balls documentary for free on YouTube in a special series of videos.
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