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TIFF PHOTO GALLERY: Maggie Gyllenhaal talks about the female experience at the press conference for Hysteria

The press conference for Hysteria, which chronicles the invention of the vibrator, elicited giggles, guffaws, awkward pauses and perhaps even a gleeful sense of empowerment for many of the women in the room. Director Tanya Wexler sounded raspy, and she noted the irony in the fact that the director of a film about female empowerment had lost her voice. “What were you doing down there?” was a common inquiry of actors Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce, who play the doctors who must pleasure women to relieve them of their “hysteria.” Dancy’s curt answer: “Acting.” Pryce revealed that he got a stress injury in his hand and lost the skin on a finger from all of the rubbing, and that he wasn’t touching an actual woman but rather a “modesty sandbag.” Dancy also revealed he visited a sex museum in Shanghai in preparation for the role. “You really had to take their word [that the artifact was a sex toy]. You look at it and think, that’s just a rock.”Maggie Gyllenhaal joked along with the rest of the cast about the scenarios that inevitably arise when making a flick about dildos. “By the time I finished the film I’d been given at least 15 vibrators,” said Gyllenhaal, to which Wexler added, “I’ve had the experience of going through checked luggage with 20 or 30 vibrators in my bag.” But both women were also eager to note the dearth of films about the elements of the female experience that Hysteria attempts to tackle. “While women are interested in getting married, they’re also interested in a lot of other things,” said Wexler.  Gyllenhaal was delightfully frank: “A lot of my films have a lot to do with sexuality, because I’m interested in sexuality—and so is everyone else.” If the women are right—and we think they are—this film should do very, very well.