Discover This: Porn Film Festival Berlin

PEACHES DOES HERSELF by Peaches © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013
PEACHES DOES HERSELF by Peaches © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013

Some hard facts first: porn is not what it used to be. Tonight, the Berlin Porn Film Festival opens its gates for the eighth time and things look a little different this year. A quick browse through the programme made me wonder where the porn went, and by porn I mean, quite conservatively, mainstream feature-length hardcore porn films. With very few exceptions, they have disappeared from the festival and that’s not even a bad or a sad thing since watching feature-length hardcore porn in a regular cinema in the company of strangers can be a… well… stressful thing. Instead, explicit sexual content has mated more and more with the art house, the experimental, the documentary and the indefinable forms of cinema in the last years. That’s all together not only more watchable, but mostly even more, yes, exciting. So I went to discuss this year’s programme with festival founder Jürgen Brüning who taught me a thing or two about porn.

JUNGLE LOVE by Sherad Anthony Sanchez © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013
JUNGLE LOVE by Sherad Anthony Sanchez © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013

Jürgen is a humble man, but he’s in fact quite a legend when it comes to film culture in Berlin. He was programmer at the Arsenal, ran the Eiszeit Kino, founded the porn company Cazzo and later (still the best name ever) Wurstfilm where he produced gay porn. Jürgen has always had an eye to the Underground and has been collaborating with artists like Bruce La Bruce since the late 1980s. He is producing low budget experimental films and knows what he’s talking about when he tells me that the face of porn has changed dramatically and that it shows in this year’s festival. With films like Interior. Leather Bar, Stranger by the Lake, Naked Opera and Love Actually…Sucks on the programme, more films with regular distribution will be screened at the festival than ever. What’s also new is that fewer and fewer porn filmmakers are producing feature length films nowadays because the times in which alternative or indie-porn was financially viable are over, Jürgen tells me. Thanks to the internet and the waves of free amateur and self-made porn, the once booming and diverse porn industry has gone through what Jürgen calls “market adjustment”, a common capitalist phenomenon, whereby small companies get absorbed by the few remaining big ones.

KINBAKU LUXURIA, PRIVATE LESSON #1 by Amaury Grisel/ Kinbaku Luxuria © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013
KINBAKU LUXURIA, PRIVATE LESSON #1 by Amaury Grisel/ Kinbaku Luxuria © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013

But let’s stop whining and look on the bright sides. First of all -and I know this from experience- it’s really quite hard (pun intended) to sit through a 2.5-hour hardcore porn film and watch 20-minute sex scenes in a cinema, even if it’s Sasha Grey in a porn version of Alice in Wonderland with amazing production design. Second of all, a porn film festival only remains interesting if it doesn’t repeat itself and is able to present innovative and original films every year, Jürgen says. A compromise is thus the Filmmaker’s in Focus programme in which pornstars Wolf Hudson and Aidan Starr (among others) present and discuss clips of their work. Thirdly, shifting the focus from the act of fucking to experimenting with all forms of sex and sexuality opens the stage to a whole new range of exciting films that may or may not contain explicit sex but will definitely show you things you haven’t seen before.

GAY BOYS by Avery Willard © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013
GAY BOYS by Avery Willard © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013

I personally can’t wait to see Peaches’ film adaptation of her HAU piece Peaches Does Herself (the trailer is amaaaaazing!) or get lost in the Love Jungle, a promising experimental art film from the Philippines. The rediscovered vintage porn of underground filmmaker Avery Willard from the 1960s, on the other hand, is sweet, artsy, sexy and funny and an absolute must if you haven’t seen it yet. I’m also curious what queer cinema filmmaker Todd Verow has to say about The End of Cruising and wouldn’t mind learning more about bondage and S/M, which is a focus this year. Apart from that, my friend Zoë Challenger just put up a hot teaser of herself in Goodyn Green’s Want Some Oranges online, Tel Aviv-based filmmaker and festival director Yair Hochner will present some rock-hard arguments in The Breakup Sex and in the Fun Porn-Section you might not only discover an animated penis that is a priest but also the author of this column blurring the lines between witches and bitches in a silent version of Hansel and Gretel. And these films are just the tip of the sexy iceberg.

JULIA by Jackie Baier © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013
JULIA by Jackie Baier © Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2013

Coming back to the question of porn, things might not be what they once were but then again, the Porn Film Festival has always been a Mecca for the curious and open-minded, for those who are willing to experience something different and discover something new. Looking at this year’s programme and considering Jürgen Brüning’s great work as curator, the Porn Film Festival can best be summed up as a festival that stresses the film over the porn aspects, I guess. Needless to say, for those who want to beat the meat in private, there’s still tons of online porn. And speaking of wankers on the internet, Mark Zuckerberg just closed down the Facebook page of the Porn Film Festival yesterday* because of the cartoon images of blow-up dolls that the festival uses. All I have to say to that is: come to Berlin, Mark, get off with the rest of us, watch some amazing movies and relax – it’s just sex.

The Porn Film Festival Berlin takes place at Moviemento, Kreuzberg from Wednesday, October 23rd until Sunday, October 27th.

Find all infos and the full programme on their homepage: http://www.pornfilmfestivalberlin.de/

*Luckily, it re-opened today.

Discover This! is a weekly Berlin–based film comment.

 

 

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