Some hard facts first: porn is not what it used to be. Tonight, the Porn Film Festival Berlin 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.
In 1980, William Friedkin, probably best known for directing The Exorcist, made a thriller that is set in New York’s gay and fetish scene and deals with a psychopathic killer who chooses his victims in darkrooms. Al Pacino plays a straight undercover cop who immerses himself into the gay scene in search of the murderer. Though filmed with the support of local Manhattan gay bars, certain activists smelled homophobic undertones in the script and tried to interrupt and prevent the shooting of the film. When the film was eventually released, 40 sexually explicit minutes of Cruising were cut and are still kept under wraps by the production company today. More than 30 years later, filmmakers Travis Mathews and James Franco had the idea of reconstructing the missing material according to their imagination. The result can be seen at this year’s Berlin Porn Film Festival. Interior. Leather Bar. is a bold experiment and a film that defies many definitions and might disappoint conventional expectations – despite its explicit sex scenes.
Starting tonight, expat Australian cinephile and festival director Frances Hill invites Berliners to discover her home country through film at Kreuzberg’s Moviemento. Frances, charming employee of the overall amazing crew of Moviemento, started the Down Under Australian Film Festival two years ago via crowd-funding and with the help of friends. This year, she has put together a diverse and exciting programme which includes documentaries, narrative films, and short films, as well as a couple of great events. I met Frances Hill and head of communication Berit Becker for an afternoon interview where we talked about transgender hairdressers, indigenous actors, and the new films from Australia’s film schools.
A ghost haunts the scene – it’s invisible and rarely audible, hardly there but always present. He would be dead if it weren’t for the archival footage that resurrects him and frees so many emotions. It’s a ghost called love, a ghost named Simon that director Vincent Dieutre summons in one of the most extraordinary, unusual, and unorthodox love stories of the year – Jaurès.
Life can be fast and sometimes it takes less than 80 minutes for a newborn to become a pensioner. The baby that was just lying on the blanket in the middle of the room starts to crawl in the next shot and then walks out of the door before it will have grown into a young girl that calls her daddy on her toy phone. The teenage girl will be a young woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a widow and her story will be told through 68 different women. No man will ever be visible.