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Porn Film Festival Berlin: Hot festival, hot tickets

Berlin's Porn Film Fest is back in kinos from October 25-31. Here's what to catch at the year's sauciest cinematic celebration.

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‘Vento Seco’ (‘Dry Wind’), screening at PFFB on Oct 27. 

Berlin’s hottest independent film festival institution, Pornfilmfestival Berlin, is back this month to celebrate all things erotic at Moviemento and Babylon Kreuzberg from October 25-31.

(All screening dates and times are at Moviemento unless stated otherwise.)

This year’s vibrant and eclectic 16th edition kicks off with repeat screenings of last year’s fantastic retrospective, which showcased films about the HIV / AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and 1990s. PFFB is screening Arthur K. Bressan Jr.’s devastating 1985 film Buddies (25/10, 16:00), the first film to explicitly deal with the virus, followed the next day by Rosa von Praunheim’s 1986 Ein Virus kennt keine Moral (A Virus Knows No Morals).

The official line-up starts on the 26th at 18:00 with Ksenia Ratushnaya’s teen drama Autlo (Outlaw) – with repeat screenings at 19:00 and 20:00. Set both in 1985 and present-day Moscow, it’s the striking story of two parallel loves, depicting Soviet-era LGBTQ life through the romance of a general and a transgender dancer, and the journey of an 11th grader struggling to reconcile his desire for mainstream acceptance with his homosexuality. It’s anchored by Liza Kashintseva’s enigmatic and otherworldly figure, the titular outlaw, who acts as both avenging angel and muse-like presence. The film won several awards but experienced a rough time domestically, falling foul of the Russian Culture Ministry’s draconian censorship. So, thank you, PFFB, for bringing it to Berlin audiences, and don’t miss out on this memorable feature debut.

The 2021 vintage is particularly strong, so we recommend you get booking your tickets asap. The Wednesday 27 line-up is dizzyingly good, with three Berlinale alumni well worth your time. There’s Radu Jude’s Berlinale-winner Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (17:15), a trenchant and unpredictably constructed critique of contemporary Romanian society that deserved this year’s top prize – check out our interview with Radu Jude here; As I Want (19:00 at Babylon Kreuzberg), Samaher Alqadi’s hard-hitting and breathtakingly intimate documentary chronicling the 2013 protests of a group of women rising up against the severe sexual assaults on Tahrir Square and establishing a link between individual emancipation and collective liberation in the Arab world; and Vento Seco (Dry Wind) (20:30), Daniel Nolasco’s assured and deeply engaging debut, which is a stylish and sensual treat full of beautifully filmed images that intertwine urban modernity with rural existence and dreamlike fantasies. It’s without a doubt one of our top picks of this 16th edition.

The rest of the week doesn’t dip in quality, with screenings of Erika Lust’s newest, The Intern – A Summer of Lust (28/10, 22:00 at Babylon Kreuzberg), Goyo Anchou’s avant-garde Argentinian gem El Triunfo de Sodoma (The Triumph of Sodom) (30/10, 14:00 – 31/10, 17:45) which playfully tackles the annihilation of patriarchal anarcho-capitalism in the most mesmerising and poetic way, and Ninja Thyberg’s fantastic Sundance-premiering Pleasure (29/10, 19:00 – 30/10, 12:45). Don’t miss out on this title, and we’ll be interviewing Ninja Thyberg in time for the film’s general theatrical release in January next year…

We also recommend you check out Jumbo, the arresting Belgian debut from writer-director Zoé Wittock. It sees a shy and withdrawn amusement park worker, Jeanne (Portrait of a Lady on Fire star Noémie Merlant), develop a psychosexual attraction for a new UFO-looking ride she decides to call Jumbo. This is a love story that is played completely straight-faced and goes beyond someone getting kinky with a Transformer or what sexual psychologists refer to as objectophilia; it’s less interested in exploring OS (Object Sexuality) and more drawn to becoming an allegorical fable about the struggles of those who don’t fit the standards of heteronormativity. If you tune into its allegorical wavelength, you’ll be treated to a compassionate call for acceptance.

Beyond the feature selection, don’t miss out on the festival’s brilliantly diverse shorts programmes, featuring categories such as Fun Porn, Fetish, Experimental and BDSM. Lastly, we started with retrospective screenings so we’ll finish with them: rewatch or catch up with Robin Campillo’s stunning 2017 film 120 BPM on the big screen once more. His third feature won the Grand Prix at Cannes and is an impassioned portrait of AIDS activist group ACT UP as well as a touching love story between two of the group’s members. We talked to Robin Campillo when the film was released in kinos – read our interview here and make sure to book a ticket if you happen to have missed out on this excellent “collective self-portrait”, as the director describes it.

16th Pornfilmfestival Berlin / Oct 25-31, Moviemento, Babylon Kreuzberg. Click here for the complete programme and to see which films are available to stream during this year’s edition.