Photo by Simon Hesse
Jürgen Brüning is the producer and founder of Pornfilmfestival Berlin, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary at Kino Moviemento from October 21-25.
Your Berlin film career started at Eiszeit Kino – you were involved in it from the beginning. Did you show controversial films back then?
In 1988, I got Richard Kern’s Fingered [with Lydia Lunch] into the Berlinale and it caused a huge scandal. Then Eiszeit said, “Okay, we’ll show it for one week.” Every screening was totally sold-out, packed. I think on the third or fourth night, about 10 masked men came in with baseball bats and smashed the projector and threw it down. They took all the money from the cash box, called us a sexist cinema, said we were pigs... then they ran away. They were left-wingers, all men, ‘defending women’s rights’.
How did you come up with the idea of Pornfilmfestival Berlin 10 years ago?
I had a heart attack on a plane and I was in a hospital in Greece. As I was there for some weeks, recovering, at that point I thought, you know, I want to do this Pornfilmfestival. Bringing mainstream porn and independent stuff and artistic stuff together, and showing it in a festival.
Why porn, specifically?
I wanted to have pornography be viewed in a public space again. Porn viewing changed in the late 1970s, when it moved from cinemas to the private home. And then the internet came out... So that was the main thing, to get people to watch pornography with other people in public again. Then we wanted to attract a new, more mainstream, audience and challenge the usual prefabricated arguments against porn: that it’s degrading to women, it’s sexist, and hetero-normative and all that stuff. People who say that don’t regularly watch it. So this was an opportunity.
The festival’s audience is hard to peg. Who is the target – straight, gay, other?
People might hate me for saying this, but honestly, the concept of lesbian and gay and bisexual festivals is over. There’s something different. Sexuality is much more. We don’t need these labels. From my experience, when you see fetish stuff, sexual orientation is not important. I wanted to open that up.
What’s your favourite memory from the festival so far?
One year we did “Meating On the Internet”. We did a live internet hook-up through Chatroulette, with an entire cinema full of people taking the place of a single user, and it was a bit mean because we obviously didn’t tell the people on the other side – they would be shocked to find a whole 100-person Kino audience watching them! The audience asked one guy if he could get naked, and he said no, but he could play the violin for us. And he did!
So, what’s to be seen at the festival these days?
Over the years, we’ve gotten more and more independent films. And a lot by women as well. We are lucky – a lot of the filmmakers come in person every year. I think the Pornfilmfestival is still an event for a very exclusive, niche audience, a Berlin niche audience. We do get 7000 visitors [per year], but I also think it’s a very elitist event because we don’t reach, like, the Lidl Verkäuferin.
Since 2009, it all takes place at the Moviemento cinema – no more screenings at Kant Kino in Charlottenburg...
I know... When I came up with the idea for the Pornfilmfestival, I immediately knew it should be in the Kant Kino. When I said the films were showing in the Kant Cinema, Americans would go, “What?! You have a cunt cinema?” I loved it! But in German it doesn’t work so well.
What are you looking forward to showing at this year’s festival?
I’m really excited for Marit Östberg’s film When We Are Together, We Can Be Everywhere, because it’s a very authentic portrait of the queer scene of Berlin. It’s about that expat coming to Berlin and thinking: everyone comes here to have sex, but are we only talking about all this hot sex, or really having it? It has everything. There’s queer sex, there’s transgender... well, everything but straight sex!
10. Pornfilmfestival Berlin, Oct 21-25 | Kino Moviemento, Kottbusser Damm 22, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Schönleinstr.