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 V.16 No.48 | November 29 - December 5, 2007 

Film Festival Preview


The land where porn is good—and good for you

The one and only Annie Sprinkle with two films in this year’s Pornotopia.
The one and only Annie Sprinkle with two films in this year’s Pornotopia.

From the down and dirty hardcore available at your local Wal-Porn to the gratuitous love scenes of Hollywood, mainstream filmmakers are getting it wrong. The triple-X cinema hidden under mattresses everywhere in America delivers fake nails, fake boobs, fake hair and fake orgasms. On the other end, big-budget movies bring us impossibly photogenic mutual orgasms, sex without work.

"Is there somebody else under that sheet?" asks Matie Fricker of Albuquerque's independent sex shop, Self Serve. "There's no way she's going to have an orgasm. Those two ends of the spectrum show people having sex in incredibly wrong ways."

That's why, though Self Serve hasn't yet been open a full year, Fricker and co-owner Molly Adler embarked on the ambitious project of curating Pornotopia, a festival of independent porn and porn-related films at the Guild Cinema this weekend. But there's an important distinction to be made: These are not "amateur" porn films, home movies made by couples. These features are from independent filmmakers, professionals with an alternate vision of erotic cinema.

Fricker and Adler moved to Albuquerque from Boston where they managed a similarly minded store, Grand Opening, which hosted an amateur porn festival once a year. "That festival raised the bar when talking about sexuality. It lended a level of credibility to sexuality that wasn't there previously in the minds and hearts of the folks in Boston," says Fricker.

So many people have ruled out porn, Adler adds. The word alone has negative associations. There's a need for erotic film with romance and, especially, chemistry. "We know when we're looking at mainstream porn; we can see it missing. And that is a turn off."

The films in the festival aren't necessarily new. But the concept of porn with real people, porn with real orgasms, porn with an emotional impetus, will be an eye-opener for many.

One featured director, Tony Comstock, is a documentary filmmaker who grew weary of capturing war, hate and violence. He decided to film love instead. He interviewed couples about how they fell in love, what they like about their bodies, the intimate details of their relationships. Then he filmed them having sex. He spliced interviews and intercourse together to create a thought-provoking documentary on another facet of the human experience.

"What we wanted to say was that porn is bigger than what you get access to at the big stores and most other places," says Fricker. "There's some awesome independent filmmakers who are being really brave and creating films that celebrate sex in all it's glory—rather than on focusing on glory holes."


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