I went to Berlin’s porn film festival and yes it was weird

I actually never knew I was such a prude until moving to this city and realizing that I am essentially an Elizabethan woman trapped in the 21st century.

I already knew that Berlin is one of the quirkiest, weirdest, most outrageous (fun) cities on the planet. Everyone’s a free spirit. On a walking tour, a guide told me that this spirit mostly stems from the years of oppression that Berliners faced during the Iron Curtain time. People ended up turning abandoned warehouses and shelled buildings into secret party places, and then electronic music eventually became a thing.

But it’s not just all night partying and drinking and dancing and electronica. People here just freely talk about sex – no problem. Swiping through Tinder, and half the prospects list “looking for casual sex.” Or they’ll bring it up immediately. Billboard ads featuring sex toys are found next to playgrounds. And then there are sex clubs where you can hang out and sip cocktails while observing a full-on orgy in the corner. No big deal or anything.

So when my friend Michelle invited me to come to a film screening during Berlin’s PornFilmFestival, I was like yeah okay cool. I didn’t think too much about it. It sounded funny, and I thought it’d make a good blog post. (God, I do so much for the sake of this blog.) I never really thought about the actual porn viewing experience, you know?

Oh man it was weird. Watching a porno with 50+ people eating popcorn and drinking beer is weird.
This festival’s been around for years. I actually dig their mission statement: “The message is clear, that there is growing demand for explicit sex that empowers individuals to make their own decisions and choices free of social stigma.”
I like that. Screw social stigma.

I went to Michelle’s for dinner first. We ate steak and drank wine so that we’d be prepared for what we predicted to be an uncomfortably absurd but wonderful evening. It was kind of like any other Saturday night. Hey, wanna go grab dinner and see a movie? Except this time everyone’s naked and there’s butt stuff.

We showed up at this gorgeous little theatre and everyone is…normal. Like honest to god, Angela Merkel could have been among them and no one would have batted an eyelash. There were at least two senior couples, and a lot of Americans. I was expecting more…Goth? Punk? Serves me right for being a judgmental bastard.

Everyone’s grabbing popcorn and drinks (I love that you can bring beer into a cinema here), and taking a seat in the small but cozy room. There’s seating for about 50 people, and the place is completely full. There’s a waiting list, in fact.

I honestly expected the film to just start. No fuss, or anything. But then a festival organizer gets up to tell us about the film – The Kiss, a French porno by Ovidie – and the director herself is there. Everyone’s laughing and general introductions are made, and I’m launched into a trip down memory lane from years ago when I used to review theatre productions for my writing program. I didn’t really fit in there either, but for whole different reasons.

I feel kind of bad for not taking it more seriously. It seems that porno lovers have their own cult classics, and true porno fans get obsessive over certain directors, actors and actresses, and sexually explicit themes.

Yes, they’ve turned porn into art.

“While filmmakers have used the cinema to explore the subject of sex for many decades, the last few years have seen a breakthrough in terms of explicitness. Catherine Breillat’s ROMANCE, Virginie Despentes’s BAISE-MOI, Michael Winterbottom’s 9 SONGS, Todd Verow’s ANONYMOUS and Patrice Chereau’s INTIMACY are a few of many films in which serious art-house filmmakers have pushed the boundaries of what can be shown as well as filmmakers like Bruce LaBruce, Kris Kramski, Maria Beatty and Wash Westmoreland have pushed the boundaries in Pornoland to explore narrative structures within a commercial porn setting.”

The film immediately launches into a sex scene and the enormity of my actions hit me square in the jaw. I’m like oh right, this is what porn is. How could I forget? I’ve lived with male roommates for years.
The Kiss is set in Paris and revolves around a young woman meeting an American woman after she gets mugged in public. They strike up a steamy romance and explore France together with the American’s two gay friends. Eventually everybody’s banging everybody and I think there might have been pee in one scene but I’m not even really sure because I’m an Elizabethan old lady.

The film was actually beautifully shot. No kidding. It was really, really well done. The French girl was a talented actress. But the American was so awful it entirely ruined the steaminess of it all for me and I mostly just wanted to light her hair on fire. She must be a big name, because later during a Q&A session people in the audience kept talking about her (Madison). But the noises she made throughout the movie made me actually want to stuff cotton so deep into my ears that I’d never hear anything ever again. Oh my god.

I always wonder about these actors/actresses. What do they tell their parents? How do they tell them? What do their parents think? I can’t even handle the thought of my parents knowing that I attended this festival. I probably won’t even receive any Christmas presents now.

Like I said, there was a Q&A session. Most people asked serious questions. There was some pretention. One guy asked why Madison, who only spoke English throughout the film (and personified the worst American stereotypes ever), suddenly seemed to understand French for a split second in one of the scenes. (I had caught on to this discrepancy as well, but had better tact.) The director stared at him blankly and said, “Are you kidding me? It’s a porno.” We all laughed. Delightful.

(I actually really liked that director and would like to be her friend.)

Michelle’s one of my few good girl friends in Berlin and so it was a risky outing for us last night. Would we remain friends? Would the memory upset us so much we’d never be able to look each other in the eye again? We were supposed to meet some German dudes for a party afterwards, but all I could think about was introducing myself like “Hi, I’m Candice and I just watched a porno in a cinema” and the idea was too weird. So we parted ways.

I love you Berlin. Never change.

  • October 25 2015

    Lol, its okay Candie. Porn isn’t for everyone. No reason not to remain friends. Just laugh it off.

    • October 26 2015

      I’m not ALWAYS opposed to it. :P

  • October 25 2015

    I love this for so many reasons, mostly because I to am an Elizabethan trapped in the 21st century.

    • October 26 2015

      Can you imagine if Elizabethan old ladies really watched porn?

  • October 25 2015

    I love this for so many reasons, mostly because I too am an Elizabethan woman trapped in the 21st century.

  • October 26 2015
    Amy

    Ahhh, this was hilarious! I could see myself doing the same thing, being like “sure no big deal,” and then looking at the top right corner of the screen the entire time. Kudos to you for going for it anyway. ;)
    In all my European travels, I haven’t made it to Germany yet. Hoping to pop by this summer, so I look forward to reading more of your adventures there!
    Amy recently posted…Awesome Things to Eat and Drink in Saint Petersburg

    • October 26 2015

      Hahaha, thanks! I didn’t know where to look. I was afraid to look away because people might notice. I’m like, my god, what have I done?

  • October 26 2015
    Suzanna

    “there might have been pee in one scene but I’m not even really sure because I’m an Elizabethan old lady.”

    I nearly peed myself laughing so hard at this :) Great post.

  • October 26 2015

    This is the first blog post of yours that I have read and I think we could be friends. I will definitely be reading more! What a crazy experience! I would have never thought that somebody could classify pornos as art…let alone eat popcorn while you’re watching a porno. But I mean, I guess why not? Thanks for opening my mind a bit and sharing this unique experience!
    Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine recently posted…Start Discovering Your Travel Style

    • October 28 2015

      Hahaha yay! New friends! Berlin’s all kinds of strange. There’s an event tomorrow night titled “Naked Men Reading.” It’s literally what you think it is.

  • October 26 2015

    Bahaha. Love this. And you.
    Amanda recently posted…27 Photos from Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer

  • October 26 2015

    Ahahah! This post reminded me my own experience! I went to the same festival a couple of years ago (well, been dragged by a friend) and OMG although everyone was watching the same film, I was trying to hide myself, sliding down my seat and trying to drown into my popcorn, maybe could i disappear into the bucket?..
    Dunno why I was feeling so embarassed..
    By I laughed so much that day!
    So funny, because I almost forgot this day and it’s the first time I read a post about it!

    • October 28 2015

      Hahahahaha! I was trying to look away from the screen at some points and then I was afraid people would notice and be like, “What a loser.” GOD so many conflicting emotions

  • October 30 2015

    I have never seen this one but I know there is a fairly popular one in Portland, Oregon.
    I haven’t been to that one either, but my girlfriend did few years ago, without really knowing what was it about except for the amateur porn part.
    Another friend of mine went last year or so.
    they both said it went anywhere from pretty artistic to pretty extreme.
    I guess that’s what means to push the boundaries!

    • November 02 2015

      Hahaha. Yep! It was a pretty surreal experience. And it really was beautifully shot. Although I had a look at the other movies offered and they seemed a little…rougher. Hahaha.

  • November 18 2015
    Veronica

    Candie, come on. It was just like any other (porn) movie(just with lots of viewers) . For a moment there I thought that it was going to be like a Theater-like type of festival… that would of been “different”.

    • November 19 2015
      Candice

      LOL, like a sex show on stage?! I’ve never been to a FILM fest that was hosted onstage. Although nothing would surprise me in Berlin.

  • August 16 2016

    Casual is always the new black, especially in the Hauptstadt. Thanks for writing about your pre-, during-, and post-experiences. :-)
    Henry / @fotoeins recently posted…Fotoeins Friday: Más alto de la Baja en México

    • August 17 2016
      Candice

      It was an interesting experience overall! Haha

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