NYC Film Festivals

Making Whoopee: The Art of CineKink

"How can you not love a duo that sings a romantic ode to the joys of anal sex?" is not a rhetorical question one normally hears from the director of a New York City film festival, but then most New York City film festivals are not run by Lisa Vandever, the co-founder of CineKink. Now in its fourth year, this celebration of alternative sexuality on film and video features a short-film competition, audience choice awards, presentations, parties and a gala kick-off fundraiser.

The ladies of Eva Midgley's Honey and Bunny, one of CineKink 2006's featured films (Photo: CineKink)

In addition to landing the musical group the Wet Spots to headline that gala tonight (anal sex songs and all), Vandever told The Reeler she is most amazed by the quality and diversity of the works that are jammed into the schedule this year. "Often when curating there will be one or two loose threads in the mix, but this year's program feels very seamless to me," Vandever noted in an e-mail. "I'm just excited to let the audience loose in it -- from the chance to see our season opener, The Notorious Bettie Page, on the big screen with a kinky crowd, all the way through several nights of great works, to our closing film, Ernest Greene's hardcore adaptation of The Story of O."

And several local filmmakers will be screening their labors of lust as well. Tony Comstock -- who, with his wife Peggy, runs Comstock Films, a company dedicated to creating "explicit documentary-style features of real-life lovers" -- is presenting Damon and Hunter: Doing It Together, a love story at heart that recently earned the dubious distinction of being banned in Australia. Eva Midgley's Honey and Bunny (made in collaboration with London's high-end, female-centric, erotic boutique Coco de Mer) won the Grand Prize at SinCine, the three-day film and burlesque festival held in Manhattan earlier this year. In addition, Honey and Bunny was a finalist in the New York Festivals International Film & Video Awards. "They had a special meeting to decide if the somewhat explicit nature of the film would be allowed to compete," Midgley explained, perhaps not surprisingly since the festival seeks to recognize "the world's best work in informational, educational and industrial film productions and corporate video." "I guess the fact that Honey and Bunny are both in various stages of undress throughout the film and play sexually charged games made it somewhat unusual for them," she said. "That and an extremely close-up shot of a vagina with a plum in it."

CineKink exists primarily for talented filmmakers like these who choose to work outside "acceptable" mainstream boundaries, and this year Vandever hopes to increase the festival's exposure across nationwide. "I'd like to expand the touring component of CineKink," she said. "We've got San Francisco lined up again for January to launch this year's tour with a three-day run of the festival, and we're working out dates with several cities we played last year, including Chicago, Portland and Seattle. I'd like to see us pick up some new venues." A Best of CineKink compilation DVD comprised of shorts screened over the past four years is also in the works.

Though Vandever, like many an independent, perpetually fights for funding and continues to seek out sponsorship for the unique fest, she acknowledged that her payback comes in ways that can't always be measured in dollars and sex. "The highlight for me is always that moment when a film really connects with our audience," she said. "Watching a film in a theater filled with kink-minded sorts can be a very heady experience; there's a definite 'community' feel to it. I love to stand in the back and soak that up." For filmmakers considering CineKink, Vandever added, "We welcome all types of works, all genres and lengths, explicit or not. And our definition of kink tends be fairly loose; your film might well be kinky -- you just don't know it yet."

Interested in finding out? Tickets are $9 at the door and $8 in advance. An $80 CineKink NYC Festival Pass includes admission to all 14 screenings, plus entry to both the Kick-Off Gala and the CineKink Awards & Afterglow on Oct. 22. Discounts are available for students, seniors and members of any alternative sexuality organization; check the CineKink site for more details. -- Lauren Wissot

Posted at October 17, 2006 10:19 AM

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