A Visit To The 2nd London Porn Film Festival (2018) – A Fun And Informative Night

Author’s Note: My 200th Post! Thanks for reading!


Did you know that there are somewhere between 8-10 new films released in UK cinemas every week? On top of that there are usually special screenings, events and festivals every weekend. It’s almost impossible for a film lover to see everything and tough decisions sometimes need to be made. Because of that there usually needs to be something special or unique to get my attention.

In this case it turned out to be porn!

Inspired by the Berlin Porn Film Festival, the people behind the London Porn Film Festival are firm defenders of the twin freedoms of digital rights and sexual freedom between consenting adults. In their own words:

We value porn as an art form that is able to question and challenge the power structures that limit our sexual expression. Radical queer porn has not settled as an art form – it straddles the borders of visual art, performance art, erotica, political activism and many other genres – making it a unique vehicle for presenting new and radical ideas of sexuality.

Just have a read of their article on Open Democracy to get a more detailed idea of their goals.

But there was one question that immediately came to mind when I decided to visit the LPFF… Am I the right sort of person to review porn?

This question didn’t arise in an inane attempt to preserve some modicum of innocence. Rather it comes down to an issue of experience. The nature of reviewing mainstream movies is that an opinion is created by comparing the film to previous cinematic outings. Which is why having a somewhat broad knowledge of world (or at least national) cinema is essential to creating a worthy review.

For example, if you knew a person whose only experience of cinema were the five live-action Transformers movies, their opinion isn’t necessarily one you would be listening to when trying to work out how to spend your Friday night.

So when it comes to reviewing porn, surely I am the equivalent of that stunted Transformers lover? Despite what my internet history might say, when it comes down to it my experience and knowledge of porn history, culture and its people is extremely limited. Perhaps it’s impossible for me to truly write a credible review?

But in spite of the “vanilla-ness” of my personal life, I’ve always made it my mission to seek out new cinematic flavours. In this case, a selection of short films by UK filmmakers collected together in a programme titled “Local Heroes”.

So… Lets sit down in a room full of complete strangers and watch some porn!


Gloaming

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Brought to the screen by Vex Ashley (@VexTape), Gloaming was a great start to the night as it head on addressed the issue of how black male bodies are sexualised. For the most part, black bodies tend to be stereotyped as hyper-masculine, always ignoring more emotional aspects such as love or general intimacy. But in Gloaming, Ashley prefers to show tenderness and passion through black eyes; rather than the rough, almost dominating, sexual activity usually seen in mainstream movies and porn.


She Groped Me In The Groceries

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With direction from Lidia Ravviso (@LidiaRavviso), SGMITG was easily one of my two favourites of the night (the other being Sixty-Nine Club.) It would be unseemly of me not to admit that such favouritism partly comes down to its adherence to traditional storytelling. In this case, a clear protagonist going about his business before being set upon and ravished by a hot Italian woman. (I didn’t say it was the most realistic of stories though!)

While Ravviso also does a great job in mining the comedy from the situation, especially when it comes to its Brexit-inspired epilogue, a special mention must be made for the cinematography, which manages to capture the unfiltered passion in a room that had to be the size of an especially minuscule clown car.


Afterparty

Afterparty

Produced by the Sluts4Sluts Collective (@Sluts4slutscol), and staring Mahx Capacity, Leo Leander and Dion De Rossi; Afterparty is (as you might expect) an experience set after the closing moments of a party. Alas, almost the entire film was shot in close-up, leading to a little difficulty in trying to work out who was doing what to whom. Just one or two wide or establishing shots would have helped a great deal.

Despite that, one of the most powerful aspects of the film was the constant communications between the three for permission. Rather than bringing a halt to the proceedings, it was a great example of how consent can be integrated into an ongoing process. When compared to how mainstream movies/porn traditionally present this aspect, Afterparty ends up being vastly superior.


Green Man Date

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Directed and starring erotic author Charlie J Forrest (@CJForrestauthor), Green Man Date was probably the biggest surprise of the night because I was not expecting something that comes pretty close to being a straight up musical!

In a bright idyllic wood, Forrest (playing a weary Viking solider), is content to sleep away when he is set upon by a strange green creature. I’m sure you can take a wild guess as to what happens next. Though it gets a little weird, there’s something to be said for porn that fully embraces the fantastical (or… you know… MORE fantastical than the usual)


Hysteria

hysteria

Now this is something a little different. A film created by Sarah Hardcastle while she was at the London College of Fashion, Hysteria comes across as more of a music video. Being more fashion conscious, there’s a lot less emphasis on sexuality compared to the other shorts. But even without a story, the artistry is more than apparent, with a shout out needed for the excellent sound design by BSP.


Sixty Nine Club

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The second of my two favourites ends up being a documentary where director Rob Eagle (@Rob_Eagle_) takes his camera into Europe’s oldest social group for gay leathermen, the Sixty-Nine Club.

Flashing back and forth between the men of the 70s / 80s to the now aged men of the modern day, Sixty-Nine Club ends upon being very much about camaraderie in the face of social expulsion. It’s both a revealing and sad look at what the people of generations past had to endure to keep their minds and souls alive. Honestly, this should be a full length feature film.


Unbridled

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Adapted from the play Black Beauty in Irons, Unbridled continues the submissive desires of pony play and continues into an arena that could not be shown upon the stage. Co-directed by Simon Moore and Marcus Quillan (the latter also starring alongside Amy Rose); the film is just as minimalist at its theatrical sister, but with added sexuality. While the short spends much of its first few minutes worshiping at the altar of tease; it soon gives way to unbridled passion from both Quillan and Rose, both literally and figuratively!


Overall, I have to say visiting the 2nd London Porn Film Festival was a surprisingly large amount of fun, with plenty of laughs and good humour throughout. I look forward to attending again in 2019.

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