by Shawna Scott November 03, 2015

Berlin Porn Film Festival 2015

Last month saw the Berlin Porn Film Festival, and our good friend Caroline Ryan (you may remember her from her ongoing PhD project which you can still get involved in) went along and has been kind enough to share her thoughts and experiences with us.

Here's Caroline: 

"Last weekend was the 10th Berlin Porn Film festival, and I was lucky enough to be able to pop along. Berlin is known for being very liberal, with its smattering of fetish clubs and thriving LGBTQ scene, so a porn film festival seems right at home here. The choice of films was mind boggling- over 135 films on show over the course of the festival, having being narrowed down from 400 by the dedicated team of curators and volunteers, who watch each film (tough job but someone’s gotta do it!). So I was spoilt for choice and ended up with a selection of films from all around the globe - Ukrainian, Serbian, American, French, British, German, Australian and so on.

What was surprising was that some films I wouldn’t have categorised as porn - the Ukrainian film The Tribe for example, a sad tale of violence, rape, and sex work with deaf young people. These were more an exploration of gender, sexuality, and navigating the often difficult ground of emerging sexuality and identity. Some were funny commentaries on sex, while others were more political, addressing the politics of sex work and policing of adult sexuality - Lora Hristova showed a thought provoking documentary featuring feminist porn directors talking about the need for porn as an expression of sexual freedom.

The films were a mix of feature length and collections of short films based on themed such as female produced porn, fetish porn, fun porn, sex and disability and so on, with some sessions dedicated to exploring the work of an individual film maker (such as French film maker Catherine Corringer, whose work could fairly be described as challenging). Some films were so aesthetically beautiful, such as Petra Joy’s short film Blue Belle, which featured a woman masturbating solo in a field of bluebells, or Ms Naughty’s Hand Job, which made clever use of light and shadow to showcase the pleasure of using our hands in sex.

Petra Joy's Bluebells

 

(Petra Joy's Blue Belle)

 

Some made me laugh, some turned me on, some turned me off, some confused me, some made me think.  One made me cry, which wasn’t the type of body fluids I was expecting at a porn film festival, but Morgana Muses’ film ‘It’s my Birthday and I’ll fly if I want to’ brought the tears. She tells her story of escaping an abusive relationship, and exploring her sexuality freely for the first time, after spending her whole life being told to shut up and get on with being a ‘good’ wife and mother and to not voice her sexual desires. It made me cry thinking of all the people that have to go through life like that, never experiencing the joy sex can bring, and how hard it is to break free of that repression.

 

This is why porn can be a force for good in the world, because it allows people to explore their sexuality, in a multitude of ways. Porn doesn’t have to be exclusively pounding cocks and baby voiced women, there’s so so much more out there if that doesn’t float your boat. If youre curious about erotic films, I would heartily recommend checking out the work of Petra Joy, Jiz Lee, Shine Louise Houston, Ms Naughty, Zahra Stardust, and Morgana Muses, if you want to explore beautifully shot porn beyond the mainstream stereotypes.

Bodies of all types were represented on screen, slim large, queer, trans, disabled, older, many with with body hair and scars. This was so refreshing to see, because we can’t have inclusive conversations about human sexuality if we deny representation to those outside white Western heteronormative ideals of beauty.  

The people were lovely, and the atmosphere was one of fun, with directors and actors happily chatting away to attendees, with people coming from all sorts of different backgrounds- students, sex workers, wannabe film makers, established film makers, and all in-between. Conversations flowed freely about sex, gender, porn, politics and it was a great opportunity to expand your horizons and learn from those with different perspectives. I didn’t come across- no pun intended! - any sleaze, or anyone masturbating next to me in the theatre, it felt like a wonderfully safe environment to be in. Eating popcorn while watching porn in a theatre was definitely a surreal experience.  

Would I recommend going next year? Abso-fricking-lutely! It was an incredible experience, and I learnt so much, and met so many creative people. I saw movies I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and had a banquet of food for thought about my own sexuality as well as concepts of sexuality in general.  For a healthy view on sexuality, it is necessary to have open conversations with people with different perspectives, and the Berlin Porn Film Festival is one inspiring way to continue this conversation.  I’ll see you there next year!"





Shawna Scott
Shawna Scott

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