The ninth Pornfilmfestival Berlin, an international showcase for films showing or dealing explicitly with sexuality, is actually a cinematic tour-de-force. Those worried that they can’t sit through 90 minutes of full-on banging with minimal plot need not worry as the festival regularly serves up a mixed programme; this year includes 21 feature films, 15 documentaries and 77 shorts from X-rated fun to softcore fiction to serious documentary. Add to that workshops, parties and Exberliner web editor Walter Crasshole on the feature film jury, and it’s a veritable cornucopic gangbang of fun.
This year celebrates female cinema, with over 50 percent of the films made by women, as well as Australian productions. Also expect a retrospective of rediscovered gay ‘classics’, such as Jean-Daniel Cadinot’s 1980s charmingly retro French porn gems. The festival will be bookending itself with excellently rendered and hysterical comedies. Opening is Japanese bondage exploration R100 from Matsumoto Hitoshi, whose absurdist delivery and meta-take on film gives it a comic-book-like quality. Closing film The Foxy Merkins follows a homeless lesbian working in prostitution and is an equally absurdist comedy with incisive contemporary commentary.
Keeping with funny, the documentary Unhung Hero follows a man without the goods as he explores what “manhood” means and what it means to him. A further docu Body of God explores body piercing, from US subculture to planetary mainstream. Also from across the pond, Meet The Beavers allows viewers to feel a heat that most Europeans are unfamiliar with – Burning Man – at La Playa’s female/queer-friendly camp. For something homegrown, Max and the Others is a glimpse not only into Berlin’s gay S&M scene, but more at the forefront, the scary bureaucracy that accompanies the gay partnership between the protagonist Max and his younger Ukrainian lover. Also German but perhaps a bit more universal thematically, Claudia Richarz and Ulrike Zimmermann’s Vulva 3.0 entertainingly examines the social and political state of the female sex organ from art to female genital mutilation.
Feature films this year are ecstatically off-kilter and adventurous. For starters, Everything That Rises Must Converge interweaves moments in porn performers’ lives with moments of chaos in modern Los Angeles that ultimately, yes, converge. And Death Drive, as you might guess, surrealistically explores the connection between male sexuality and death, complete with otherworldly spiritual undertakings in the desert.
For the hardcore element, the Cadinot retrospective is a great place to start (see Charmant Cousins for an incestuous but fully prurient thrill). That’s not it for gay Francophiles either: Marvin Merkins’ 1978 hardcore feature New York Inferno hits all the right spots for urban, masculine and mustachioed magnetism. Berlin-based pornographer Goodyn Green presents her newest outing, Shutters, beautifully interweaving pornographic lesbian encounters in various environs and combinations. Aesthetically oriented gay porn company CockyBoys will also have a focus. Catch Answered Prayers of the Banker for a classically hot feature with a confusing plot featuring porn rock star Jake Bass.
We’ve written about his work before and it’s fitting that Jan Soldat will have a focus at this year’s festival, so don’t forget to check out his deeply intimate doco shorts.
All this is only the tip of the erotic iceberg. Don’t forget the parties and check out their website for a full programme.
9. PORNFILMFESTIVAL BERLIN, Oct 22-26 | Moviemento Kino, Kottbusser Damm 22, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Schönleinstr.
Originally published in issue #131, October 2014.