Love & sex

EXB’s guide to Pornfilmfestival 2020

Berlin’s hottest independent film festival institution isn’t going to let the pandemic quash the love. Pornfilmfestival Berlin do all they can to bring people together at Moviemento and Babylon Kreuzberg October 20-25.

Article image for EXB’s guide to Pornfilmfestival 2020

Berlin’s hottest independent film festival institution isn’t going to let the pandemic quash the love. Pornfilmfestival Berlin do all they can to bring people together at Moviemento and Babylon Kreuzberg October 20-25.

Yes, Berlin’s film festival celebrating the erotic will return IRL this year. And while it can’t exactly be the packed version we know and love due to the big C, one could think about this year’s Pornfilmfestival as the PFFB Time Machine Edition. After all, peak points of Porno Chic and the Golden Era aside, for decades people watched porn on the big screen in half-empty cinema halls, seats-a-empty between them, casting lecherous looks at other patrons across the aisles. The Pornfilmfestival has almost gone underground in a sense.

It isn’t exactly easy for a festival that sells more than 8000 tickets to pare down, but Berliners will still get nine features and six short film programmes over six days at the end of October. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time and they go on sale October 1, so don’t delay (tickets here). Moviemento themselves pointed out that they can’t get specific about the available tickets, so our advice? Buy multiple tickets. If there’s something you want to see, buy two tickets now, find a date later. The number of screenings is reduced, too, so don’t think twice.

Even with limited seats and screenings, there’s still plenty for Berliners to get into, especially homegrown. This year opens local with Urban Smut, in which a handful of Berlin porn notables (Theo Meow, Katy Bit, Jo Pollux, Finn Peaks und Candy Flip) spread open the city in an anthology film of five explicit shorts taking place around Berlin. From the very first short, detailing a sexy criminal Berlin underworld, you can tell this is big pornography with an underground flair. These kids aren’t the only Berliners getting the audience wet this year – Julia Ostertag returns with her documentary exploration of a moist “myth” in Female Ejaculation & Other Mysteries of the Universe. Ostertag herself guides you along the history, the nature and the suppression of this biological reality… with the help of some of the biggest names in sex education, including Annie Sprinkle.

A different mecca is featured in Pier Kids. Centred around the homeless (mostly) Black POC community of homeless queer and transgender kids in New York City, it may not present stories as tailor made for the big screen as Pose does, but nonetheless deserve to be told. Meanwhile Almond’s EEG Orgy takes porn to a cerebral level. By hooking up the participants to machines that read brain waves, we can literally see what people are thinking during an orgy.

Among the other features that round out this year’s mini-programme, there’s Rodrigue Jean’s The Acrobat, which plays out like A Last Tango in Paris in Toronto with two men involved in a BDSM relationship. It may have the slow burn of a Canadian winter, but the sex and acrobatics scenes are fantastically shot. And Anoushka’s Vivante is almost the flipside to The Acrobat as a sexually explicit French lesbian drama plays out with a tragi-comic flair that can be both hot and corny all at once. Delicious Berlin fave Bishop Black has a role.

This year also features a timely retrospective if ever there is one, showcasing films about the HIV / AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and 1990s considering current events, with screenings both during the festival and weekly at Moviemento through November. For those curious about the Berlin take on the epidemic, Rosa von Praunheim’s 1986 Ein Virus kennt keine Moral both screens and lends its name to the retrospective as a whole. Those that have never seen Arthur J. Bressan Jr.’s 1985 devastating masterpiece Buddies (the first feature film to explicitly deal with the virus at all) would do well not to miss the screening on the last day of the festival. The rest of the retrospective takes place outside of the space of the mini-festival, so check our online event calendar for the other dates, but be sure not to miss Jasco Viefhues’ documentary Rettet das Feuer. Viefhues gives us a look at the life of Berlin photographer Jürgen Baldiga, who died of AIDS in 1993, and through it a look at a very specific moment in (West) Berlin gay life before the Hauptstadt became an international queer mecca.

Three brand-new short film programmes join the regulars in Theory Porn Shorts, Men’s Bodies/Men’s Image Porn Shorts and, of course, Sex in Times of Corona Porn Shorts.

The abridged festival closes on October 25 with a familiar name in Todd Verow’s Goodbye Seventies, a look at the gay porn industry in the golden age with all its ups and downs – as usual, filmed with a small budget and a lot of heart. That’s not completely the end, though, as special Pornfilmfestival screenings will take place every month at Moviemento through September 2021, guiding us smoothly to the 16th  Pornfilmfestival Berlin, when things can (hopefully) return to normal.

15. Pornfilmfestival Berlin, Oct 20-25 | Moviemento, Babylon Kreuzberg, Kreuzberg, see www.pornfilmfestivalberlin.de for complete programme