Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shortbus Movie - Art Porn

LOS ANGELES: Since its debut at the Cannes film festival in May, director John Cameron Mitchell's film "Shortbus" has been labelled many things for its full on depictions of sex including porn for everyday audiences.

But Mitchell, whose first film "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" in 2001 became a cause celebre among fans of movies made outside Hollywood, said the movie is far from pornography because it uses sex with artistic licence to comment on how people's lives are impacted by sexual thoughts and feelings. Moreover, he argues he did not make the movie with mainstream audiences in mind.

"The very explicitness of the sex limits the audience, which is fine," Mitchell said.

Mitchell, 43, has built a strong -- if still formative -- reputation by telling stories that shock some audiences with his point of view that comes from outside the mainstream. In fact, the title "Shortbus" refers to the small buses that took special education and other kids to school separately from the larger buses that delivered most teenagers to class.

"What I want the film to do is to remind people that it (sex) is integrated into our lives and shouldn't be hidden away because it can change lives. Monogamy might be right for some, and celibacy, and all these things might be right, but you can't ignore it," Mitchell said.

Many of the most explicit acts occur at the start of the film because Mitchell wanted to move quickly beyond prurient thoughts and get to more substantive themes on how some individuals, and society at large, allow sex to impact life.

Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is a sex therapist whose thoughts on the topic block her from achieving orgasm. James (Paul Dawson) and his boyfriend Jamie (PJ DeBoy) love each other but lack a healthy sex life. Dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish) feels isolated in her career.

What they all have in common is gathering weekly in a downtown New York salon called Shortbus where people outside mainstream society openly share ideas on art, culture and sex.

The actors are not stars and several are not even actors because Mitchell wanted the cast to bring its own ideas on sex to the story and not be worried about ruining a career by performing oral sex, intercourse or masturbating on-screen.

Mitchell's unconventional style called for performance workshops where the actors grew comfortable with each other to heighten the movie's sense of reality.

Mitchell is no stranger to making movies outside the mainstream. "Hedwig" told of a boy who grew up with conflicted sexual feelings and became a transvestite rock singer before facing his future as a man. It premiered at 2001's Sundance Film Festival, won awards and garnered acclaim for Mitchell.

The movie played mostly in art houses and made a mere $3.6 million at U.S. box offices. Yet at the time, that figure was a success for a low-budget movie with homosexual themes.

Still, "Hedwig" grew into a cult-like hit on DVD because friends gave it to friends who gave it to other friends, and he is hopeful "Shortbus" will become similarly shared.

"This, too, will be a hard thing to see for some people," Mitchell said. "They might not see it for a few years but then get it on DVD and go, 'damn.'"

Source:www.stuff.co.nz

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