The PornFilmFestival Berlin is back for the 11th time (Oct 26-30 at Moviemento), and it’s time to get out the tissues.
That Kleenex need not be for what you’re thinking of, perv – this year features a number of touching and/or troubling features and documentaries. Those prone to bodily fluids of the ocular persuasion have been warned. The much talked-about (and EXB fav) Théo et Hugo may have one of the best sex scenes in mainstream cinematic history, but ultimately, it’s a sweet love story between two men sharing intense experiences. Festival fave and regular Todd Verow delivers poetic feature This Side of Heaven in his signature style, about older artists struggling against gentrification and loneliness, co-starring legendary performance artist Penny Arcade.
On the documentary side, Chemsex explores the somewhat troubling and at times frightening world of hardcore drugs and gay sex. The overwrought score aside, it’s an expertly crafted look at modern gay issues. Two other moving docs deal with gay sex in old age: Verow’s other entry Sex and the Silver Gays, featuring explicit onscreen sex, explores a group of gay senior citizens called the Prime Timers and Desert Migration tracks the lives of older gay men in Palm Springs, post-HIV diagnosis.
Premiering at the Berlinale this year, Europe She Loves is a series of four mixed vignettes of relationships during the time of the European financial crisis, often pitting financial strain against the need for intimacy and sex.
Not everything’s geared towards stimulating your heart. The excellent Inside the Mind of Favela Funk isn’t, like you’d think, the porn fantasies of a woman named “Favela” but rather an interesting looking at the extremely sexualized (lyrically and on the dancefloor) funk coming out of Rio de Janiero’s favelas. Sobo Swobodnik’s Sexarbeiterin may take itself a bit too seriously (and play one song ad nauseum) but the likeability of her chosen protagonist makes it worth the peek into one part of Germany’s sex work world.
There wouldn’t be PFF Berlin without the curators throwing in a few picks to really push the limits – whether of sex or cinema itself. Andy Warhol to se vrait: BOYZ is the multiple-split-screen episodic mindfuck ode to everyone’s favourite (or least favourite) pop artist. Its two-hour length is a little daunting, but if in the right mood its quite the experience. But the real button-pusher is Italian Beyond Madness (a very not vegan-friendly production), Luigi Zanuso’s gratuitous exploration of insanity. While the intertitles driving the “narrative” forward can border on embarrassing, one can’t dwell on that too long before being assaulted with some of the strongest and over-the-top sexual imagery we’ve seen on film in a long time. We wouldn’t be surprised if people walk out of this one, but it should make for one hell of a discussion afterwards. For some limit-pushing locally-made film, the German premiere of Julia Ostertag’s award-winning feature Dark Circus is taking place at the fest this year. Weaving together elements of BDSM and the occult, dream states and reality, Ostertag is in top form with one of her most visually and cinematically ambitious films to date.
And what of “porn” porn? The fest has a definite feminist slant with its opening film The Bedroom and Michelle Flynn’s Momentum Vol. 4. The best part of feminist porn? There’s (almost) something for everyone. Opener Bedroom explores sex through the decades (and different gender configurations) in one room and Momentum is a simple “straight” porn where the focal points are not what you’d think – the first two scenes are solo male masturbation moments.
Among the films, three focuses take centre stage this year, from the fun to the serious: AIDS, racial politics and virtual reality! A host of lectures, workshops (sex positive parenting or glory-hole making, anyone?) and a party are all there to stimulate either heart, mind or crotch, so don’t miss out on Berlin’s most Berlin of film festivals.
See www.pornfilmfestivalberlin.de for full programme and trailers.
PornFilmFestival Berlin, Oct 26-30 | Kino Moviemento, Kottbusser Damm 22, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Schönleinstr.