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Porn Film Festival Berlin 2021

We went to the Porn Film Festival and watched porn during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We saw true intimacy and learned a lot about sexuality, gender, and feminism. Here are our insights on the event.

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Porn Film Festival Berlin - An Introduction

The Porn Film Festival  (PFF) is the only one of its kind in Germany and it began in 2006. The film festival was founded by the filmmaker and producer Jürgen Brüning. It is now mainly run by four people  including Jürgen Bruning, Paulita Pappel, Manuela Kay and a lot of helpers. The PFF is mainly financed through sponsors from the ethical porn companies, including CHEEX, the sex, and the queer community. All have been working together to enable it to come to life. It takes place in the Movimento and in the Babylon Kreuzberg cinema, as well as online. 

During the week an average of 100 different films, short, as well as feature length films, from all over the world are presented. The movies are usually screened in OV, with English subtitles. In the selection process of the movies, the organizers use the lowest common denominator of sexuality to choose which one’s they find most moving. From hardcore porn, to documentraies, to comedy, there is something for every taste, and for every fantasy. The topics of the movies mainly center around queer and feminist perspectives. There is a strong focus on sexuality, gender and feminism through a lense that diverges from that of most mainstream cinematography. Sexual morality, identities, body norms, gender stereoypes from all over the world are challenged and artistic alternatives to mainstream pornography are presented. In addition to movies, there are also panel discussions, Q&A’s, conversations with producers and performers of the movies, lectures, workshops, and readings. This means that every year a lot of people from different parts of the sex industry gather together to share their thoughts. 

According to the PFF website “Of the 8,000 viewers reached in 2015, slightly more than half are female, the audience is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, trans*sexual and queer and, with almost 50% of visitors from all over the world, extremely international.” Sadly, last year the Festival was only allowed to take place in a much reduced form of its usual capacity. None of the performers or producers of the movie were able to come, due to the pandemic and only half the amount of tickets were allowed to be sold. For an event that lives off of discussion, mingling and body contact this was quite straining. Yet, it was also important to the organizers to not cancel the PFF, in order to celebrate sexuality, in a time where partying and a lot of sex work was not allowed. Now that everything is open again and the event could run at its full capacity the joy of reuniting was greater than ever!

My Porn Film Festival Experience

When I arrived at the Moviemento cinema, one of the oldest cinemas in Europe, at Kottbusser Damm a long line awaited me. I stood in the back and people quickly joined behind me. I was surrounded by a positive atmosphere, small groups of people were chatting in English, German, Spanish etc. and smoking. Everyone seemed very excited about the opening act and it also appeared that many were regulars. The line moved forward slowly (COVID checks), and even though it was already past the movie’s starting time everyone stayed relaxed. When I finally reached the cozy, warm environment of the cinema I was given a wrist band, showing that I was part of the festival. I then settled down in the last row of a tightly packed room. The movie had not started yet and after a few minutes the organizers of the event gave a little introduction to the 16th PFF (as I have already introduced the event series above I won’t diverge into it again). They had a humorous and welcoming attitude and explained that there would be an afterlounge every night at Ficken 3000, free entry for everyone with wrist bands.  The Ficken3000 is a queer bar, and the introduction given to it at the festival was that this week it would be a space where sex workers, porn performers, visitors and anyone who was intersted could dance, mingle, or have sex in the darkrooms. I was intrigued by the sexpositivity and casualness of the invitation. 

Then the movie was introduced, Autlo. It was the first time for a Russian film to start the festival. Ksenia Ratushnaya debut film plays in several different times and explores gender, queerness, sexuality, and violence. Personally, I very much enjoyed the exploration of trans lives during the USSR and the depiction of homophobia and transphobia in modern day Russia. There were also elements of the story that were quite intense and violent that I could not associate with as much, but the safe space of the comfy cinema chair and the sound of people snacking on popcorn while someone is being spanked on screen kept me relaxed. After the movie had finished I left the cinema and I could really sense that the movie had made an impact on me. 

Over the next few days I watched a lotttttt of super varied films. Each time after a short introduction, either by performers, producers, directors of the films themselves, or by the PFF organizers the lights went out. There were a couple of short ad trailers by some of the PFF sponsors and watching people having sex on screen in a room where everyone was calm and quietly chatting, excited for what was about to come was a strong contrast to how the porn scene is usually depicted that stuck with me. While watching the porn shorts it was also just like watching an art show. However, I must say, for some films I would have really appreciated some sort of trigger warning beforehand (yes it is a porn film festival, but I was still not prepared for certain violent scenes). Either way, every time I left the cinema I always had the tingling sensation that the movies had really done something and I reflected on them a lot. 

I must say, the documentary As I Want was my favourite film of the week. It was a documentary by the Egyptian Samaher Alqadi, who was originally from Palestine, about the sexual assaults during the demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2013 and the general treatment of womxn in Egypt during this time. The filmmaker herself is starring in the movie, as  well as her friends and family. In between scenes of resistance to an oppressive patriarchal regime, a movement mostly led by womxn, there are also very intimate scenes, in which she reflects on her upbringing and talks to her belly, her unborn son, about the type of world he is entering and the type of man should become. An empowering film, with a note from the maker being that womxn can do anything. 

By the end of the week I had connected with a couple of people who were also in town for the festival and we ended up going to the Ficken3000 afterparty. Because we had a wrist band from the PFF we could enter for free. The space was quite dark and packed, but had an even more open vibe than the festival itself. In the background of the room there was a screen on which gay porn from the 60s (in black and white) was playing. Some people were dancing to techno beats, others settled down in small groups and were chatting, and others went downstairs to explore the darkroom area for men. Among these were celebrities of the scene such as porn stars and sex workers. It was incredible to be in such a sexpositive area and at a party, which contrasted all negative stereotypes of the porn industry. I can only recommend that you visit and support next year! 🙂

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Under this label, you will find stories that show more than two people- three (threesome) and more- some. Often they are of different genders or sexual orientations, performing different sexual activities at the same time. Never gets boring, this category splits with monogamous sex.

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Horngry
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Girls Night In
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