By Rachelle Younglai
TORONTO (Reuters) - Hard core sex in a mainstream movie? No problem.
Three months after John Cameron Mitchell showed his sexually explicit film "Shortbus" out of competition at the Cannes film festival, he said it had attracted distributors in dozens of countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, France and Singapore.
"People are ready for change. There is a thirst for something different," Mitchell told reporters on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival, where "Shortbus" was set for its North American premiere before an October opening in the United States.
Mitchell aims to use sex as a metaphor to tell a story about people looking for solace and searching for something more in their lives in a post-September 11 world.
"What pissed me off was that it was ... generically identified of as porn," Mitchell said of his film. "We are not trying to do anything salacious here. That is just the language which we speak."
The film is graphic: Scenes include a man being whipped by a dominatrix as he masturbates and a straight couple having sex in a variety of positions.
But pornographic? Mitchell argues not.
"Porn is really to arouse. This film explores the other areas of sex," he said.
The story revolves around two couples, one straight and one gay, accompanied by a few other lonely souls.
One couple seeks counselling from a sex therapist, played by Sook-Yin Lee, who works for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. as on-air host of a show about popular culture.
It turns out Lee's character has never experienced an orgasm, which leads the couple to invite her to a salon called Shortbus, where everything goes -- from group sex and voyeurism to cabarets.
Lee said there were initial reservations at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. about her being in the film.
"Once they were re-educated, they allowed me to do this movie," she said at a press conference.
"I don't know if I would have been able to do this if I was working at CNN."