I’ve managed to preview three films that will screen at the upcoming DocFest (two of them Bay Area-based). Here’s what I thought of them:
A- Public Sex, Private Lives
Skip this movie if you’re simply looking for titillation. But if you’re really curious about the performers who make a living (and apparently a good one) having sex–kinky sex, actually–on camera, this is a must. It follows the lives of three porn stars–Lorelei Lee, Princess Donna, and Isis Love–all of whom have gone from merely performing to taking significant part in the creative process. This sympathetic documentary looks at prejudice, how relationships work in the adult film industry (yes, people get jealous), what it’s like to be a porn star’s parent–or child, and the dangers of obscenity trials and Child Protective Services. All three subjects come off as intelligent and thoughtful.
B- Edible City
Talk radio may belong to the right in this country, but documentaries definitely belong to the left. This piece of agitprop (or perhaps I should say agriprop) tells you way we should all support the movement to grow edibles in urban environments, and let the people take control of their own food sources. I’m in complete sympathy with these goals (despite my pathetically brown thumb), and agree that for many reasons we need to shorten the space between food creation and consumption. But I would have liked more numbers on land available and how many people that land can feed, varied diet, and other issues. I would also have appreciated the thoughts of well-meaning people (not corporate hacks) willing to discuss the downsides (I assume there are some).
C- The Pirate Bay Away From The Keyboard
This Swedish fly-on-the-wall cinéma vérité documentary examines the trials around the controversial file-sharing Web site Pirate Bay. The stakes were high–copyright laws versus freedom of the Internet. The legal and moral issues are complex and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, director Simon Klose seems more interested in simple personalities than in the real complex issues at stake. The movie has its moments–a discussion of WikiLeaks, a drunken tirade–but mostly it’s just people being self-righteous. Although the film gives everyone a chance to defend their view, it’s clearly on the side of the pirates, and I expect a lot of youthful cheers and applause when it’s screened. And yet, despite a request in the credits to "Please share this film online," I had to enter a password to preview it for review.