Porn takes centre stage in Berlin
11 February 2013, 15:48
Berlin - The Berlin Film Festival has this year given centre stage to a part of the global motion picture business that the mainstream looks down on - the porn industry.
The Berlinale on Saturday screened Lovelace, about the life of Linda Lovelace, who emerged in the 1970s as the porn industry's first superstar following her movie Deep Throat.
Amanda Seyfried, who plays Linda, said she found Deep Throat "very interesting."
Jeffrey Friedman, who directed Lovelace with Rob Epstein, said: "Porn chic is part of the 1970s and part of the change in the culture.
'Breakthrough pornographic experience'
"There was a frankness about sex that was gradually evolving."
And Deep Throat turned Lovelace into a poster girl for the sexual revolution.
The film, said Friedman, "was a breakthrough in that it created a pornographic experience in a public arena."
Lovelace, which also stars Sharon Stone as her deeply conservative mother and James Franco as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, was one of several movies the festival is showing this year on porn.
In addition to US actor-turned-director Joseph Gordon Levitt's Don Jon's Addiction - a comedy about a young man who can't get enough of internet sex, the festival also screened Indonesian director Teddy Soeriaatmadja's Something in the Way, about a devout taxi driver addicted to porn.
Franco also appears in another film at the festival exploring a previous controversy about a movie crossing a line in presenting sexual issues - William Friedkins' 1980s gay feature, Cruising.
"I like to engage with material that I don't get a chance to engage with in bigger studio movies," Franco said. "I like jumping into the unknown."
Remove some of the graphic scenes
Franco has joined Travis Mathews, for the film, Interior.
Leather Bar, to reconstruct the legendary 40 minutes that were cut from Cruising so as to allow its release in cinemas.
Lovelace and the other films have not been included in the festival's main competition.
This is not the first time that porn, addiction to sex or sex workers have been portrayed in movies screened at major international film festival such as the Berlinale.
But at a press conference for Don Jon in Berlin, Gordon-Levitt admitted that he will probably have to cut his film, which also stars Scarlett Johansson, to remove some of the graphic scenes so it can secure a rating.
"I think it's important that those images are in there, but what precisely you see isn't that important," Gordon-Levitt said.
"What's important is the rhythm of the film, the repetition of what the Don Jon character does, over and over."
Set in Richard Nixon's America, Lovelace shows how Linda is conditioned into the sex industry by being stripped of her inhibitions by the porn filmmakers and as a result of the violence she suffers at the hands of her husband, played by Peter Sarsgaard.
'I learn how to enjoy sex'
For this reason, Epstein believes that Lovelace is a feminist film.
"At first I'm closed up like a flower bud and then gradually the petals start to open," Linda says in the film.
"And then I finally learn about myself and I learn how to enjoy sex. And I feel free."
Epstein said: "Linda found her voice and how to be her own person. In that sense it is a very feminist movie."
The porn industry has come a long way since Lovelace helped to move the skin-flick business into mainstream movie going.
But unlike the mainstream movie business the porn makers seem to have successfully ridden all the major chances and innovations of the film industry, especially more recently the internet.
Times have changed since the days that days that the porn business was hidden away, said Epstein.
"Porn is ubiquitous, it's in the mainstream and free on the internet," he said.