Erotic art is viewed much more comfortably from the distance of time
In French, the colloquial expression for an erotic film is “un film de cul” – literally meaning “an arse film”. The organisers of France’s first Erotic Film Festival (which opened yesterday in Paris) have pointedly set out to baptise the festival as the “Festival de Film de Fesses”. By replacing the cruder word “cul” with “fesses” (more ‘buttocks’ than ‘arse’), the aim is presumably to help change the tone of the festival.
The majority of films being shown are from the 1970s. At the time, these were considered pure pornography, but nostalgia has the power to rehabilitate even the greatest sinners, it would seem.
Over four festive days, the event will include conferences, artistic representations, the showing of shorts and features, sex in art and art in sex.
“We found it particularly interesting to speak of this transgression which pigeon-holes sex as something forbidden and which strangely makes it something bigger than it should be,” says festival co-founder Maud Bambou, with tongue firmly in cheek. “Creating this festival means being able to meet people around the question of sexuality and to show that films can be simple, funny and beautiful and show sexuality, while still keeping a certain quantum of mystery, elegance and beauty… it’s kind-of like the desire to reposition sexuality around the theme of romanticism.”
All credit to subjective notions but one man’s romanticism is another man’s pornography. Or, as French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet liked to put it – “Pornography is the eroticism of others”.
One of the principal auteurs in the festival is Jean-François Davy. The festival will feature a retrospective of the work of this man, whose film “Exhibitions” was the first erotic film shown on Canal+ back in 1975.
40 years ago, Davy’s films were pure pornography, but today they have an official imprimatur of respectability: The Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC) has de-classified Davy’s works, removing the “X” label from them and thus allowing the petite bourgeoisie of Paris view them with a perfectly clear conscience.
The festival continues until Sunday 29th of June. For further details, see www.lefff.fr.
Cinéma Nouveau Latina, 20, rue du Temple, 75004 Paris.