1/20/2010

PORNO GANG in Germany

The best Serbian film in many years, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG, was shown at the Berlin Porn film festival in October 2009.

The December issue of the SPLATTING IMAGE magazine from Berlin has an interview with the director, Mladen Đorđević. Its English translation can be found here.

Also, the magazine has a review of this film (in German, of course), which is here presented in its English translation:

Review by Jochen Werner

English translation: Barbara Heitkamper


THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG

(ZIVOT I SMRT PORNO BANDE)


Serbia 2009

Director & Writer: Mladen Djordjevic;

Kamera: Nemanja Jovanov;

Editing: Marko Glusac, Milina Trisic;

Cast: Mihajlo Jovanovic, Ana Acimovic, Ana Jovanovic, Predrag Damnjanovic, Radivoj Knezevic, Srdjan Jovanovic, Ivan Djordjevic, Bojan Zogovic


Marko is a young, ambitious film student and all he really wants to do is art films. Not as complaisant arthouse cinema but rather exploring Serbia’s national myths through horror and science fiction scenarios. Of course he can’t find any financing for his zealous projects, and so he takes what he can get: to start with, the money of Cane, a sleazy porn producer. He uses it to shoot a surreal and pretentious art porn film which finds little enthusiasm among his employer and his buddy, an unscrupulous cop. Marko gets fired, threatened and brutally beaten up in the end. He thereon decides to change genres and founds Serbia’s first porn theatre. As this gets thrashed by the police even during the premiere, the motley crew around Marko decide to tour the villages of rural Serbia.

Right from the beginning, director Mladen Djordjevic, who already explored the sad realities of the Serbian porn industry in his documentary MADE IN SERBIA (2005), embeds his first fictional film deep in the present of his devastated and traumatized country. Marko shoots his first porn take during an air raid on Belgrade, and everything that follows must be understood with an almost post-apocalyptic post-war period in mind. First and foremost, however, the crew of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG aim for generality: a bizarre array of social outcasts come together through free love and its artistic/commercial applicability. Broken up porn actors, drug addicts, an HIV-positive gay couple, a zoophilic transvestite  all the while captured very tenderly and taken seriously in their effort to escape the corrupt apparatus and start a hippie-esque life as sexual bohemians.

Needless to say, they are doomed from the start: the villagers insult and ridicule them and chase the »Porno Gang« away. The situation finally escalates: after being taken into police custody where they get barbarously tortured and humiliated, the winter forces them to travel on and the crew encounters an armed mob of farmers in a forest. In a sequence of brutish violence, all protagonists get brutally raped by the unleashed villagers, men as well as women, straight as well as queer, doesn’t matter. This moment is also a turning point for the film itself: the sexual utopia, as exaggerated and campy as it might have been sketched, has ultimately collapsed. Raw, ugly life infiltrates the artsy dreamery and destroys it irretrievably. The moment of humiliation, the forceful annexation of their bodies and the artistic ideas which they and their liberation stood for is at the same time a moment of insight: the humiliated protagonists’ faces, contorted with pain, turn into a roaring laughter  a moment to make one’s blood run cold. The joy of life which they had wanted to stage with liberal sex and absolute tolerance for every kind of sexual anomaly has become something deeply desperate. Reality has taken them down and subjugated, and reality is cruel.

With this loss of ideals under which Marko had brought the Porno Gang to life, the way is paved for the subsequent development which drives its heroes as well as the film itself ever closer to the heart of darkness. Marko meets Franz, a German who started off a profitable business selling his self-made videos of genocides and massacres as a war correspondent and successfully carries it forward after the war as a producer of snuff movies. He’s not lacking victims for his films, either: those whom the war left physically and psychologically crippled, war criminals eaten up with guilty feelings, and finally some simple, poor people who hope to help their surviving families with their »fee«, and who have nothing to offer but their own lives. Franz offers Marko to go an essential step further: »Pornography remains, death is added.« He could become the first snuff artist, says Franz, and Marko eventually gives in. His fascination for pornography has been explained earlier in the movie: the fight between Eros and Thanatos, the forces of love and death, of which Thanatos turns out to be the stronger in the end. Marko’s way to snuff is therefore as consequently predefined as Franz’s way from the executions of war to those of peace  all pretended motives aside, like making money in order to be able »to do right«.

Mladen Djordjevic translates the murders which follow (staged as extremely bloody set pieces) and the subsequent corrosion of the group documentary style: in pictures of a raw directness that hasn’t been seen on a movie screen for a long time. THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG is nothing but the rebirth of the socio-critical splatter films in the spirit of the early Hooper, Romero and Craven  combined with a European art film tradition. The result is a work of most brutal force, constantly breaching taboos in its blunt and consciously border-crossing description of acts of extreme sexuality and extreme violence. This uncompromising film debut hits like a punch in the gut and brands itself inextinguishably upon the brain. The film has an urgency which is almost physically palpable, fuelled by a political conscience as well as by the tradition of exploitation cinema  it might even, just at the dusk of the decade, open a new and exciting chapter in cinema history.


Original text, in German, available HERE.

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