Porn to Be Free
A documentary about the generation who fought for sexual freedom
Written and directed by Carmine Amoroso
Single screening / Slovenian premiere
13 January 2017 at 8 pm
Kino Šiška, Ljubljana
Language: English with Slovenian subtitles
In the framework of Akcija!, a cycle of screening events
“Pornography is vital to freedom and a free and civilised society should be judged by its willingness to accept it.”Salman Rushdie
Porn to Be Free is a film documentary about the generation who fought against puritanism and censorship to defend freedom of speech and sexual freedom. From Italy, Denmark and France through to California, the film follows a group of rebels who started a battle against censorship through pornography. Together they shook the church, the politics and the institutions. Through uncensored exclusive footage and archive material, the film explores the story and the fights of a group of pioneers: from film director and porn pioneer, Lasse Braun, to Riccardo Schicchi, master of transgression such as the election of porn star Cicciolina in the Italian Parliament. The documentary features numerous other protagonists such as feminist porn director Giuliana Gamba, author Lidia Ravera and a short animation by Charlie Hebdo’s veteran Siné. Through their utopia and shocking dreams, they made the world a freer place and paved the way for forward-thinking debates today, such as neo-feminism, or the LGBT rights movement. Porn to Be Free is an opportunity to reflect on a period of great changes and transformations in which pornography, with its deconsecrating power, became a means of struggle and liberation and grew into a true language: from literature to cinema, from comics to visual arts. Writers, intellectuals, philosophers, feminists, pornographers and porn stars reveal to us how pornography was a means of change and a weapon of social and political struggle, putting Italy at the forefront of one of the most important and pervasive phenomena of contemporary culture, so much so to make turn pale even Larry Flynt and Linda Lovelace from overseas.
The film is shot in different formats — from Iphone to Canon C300 — and features dozens of interviews and unseen archive materials ranging across different eras aEnd different technologies — 35mm, private and amateur super 8, hundreds of photographs and sound recordings — the fruit of over two and a half years of research.
Looking at the normalized porn industry today, it appears that we have shifted back in time when opinion and rights movements rised up slightly but can’t break through moralism. We are almost inclined to say that we are lacking of a new Riccardo Schicchi or a new Ilona Staller, with the ingenuity and genuineness, the abstraction and the folly to make inroads into an increasingly monolithic society.
The film has been made and financed in an entirely independent way. No institution, public or private body has agreed to finance the project. The word “porn” in the title was enough to stop any support for production or distribution.
Carmine Amoroso: director and screenwriter of Porn to Be Free. In 1996, Amoroso wrote and directed Come Mi Vuoi (Embrasse-moi Pasqualino), the first Italian film to have a focus on a transgender character, featuring Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel. The film has been sold worldwide and has since become an essential milestone in queer cinema. In 2007 he directed his second feature Cover Boy. The film was selected in over 90 festivals worldwide and won 40 awards. It was also shortlisted to represent Italy at the Academy Awards alongside Gomorra and Il Divo.
Riccardo Schicchi: Photographer, producer and manager, he was the number one protagonist of Italian pornography in the 70’s and 80’s. He turned porn into a major consumption good. Because of his numerous court cases and prison sentences, he was nominated the Che Guevara of porn. He launched several key media icons such as Cicciolina, Moana Pozzi and Rocco Siffredi.
Ilona Staller: Known under the name of Cicciolina, she is the most famous and the most controversial porn star of all times. After a childhood in Hungary, she moved to Italy in the early 70’s and was key in redefining the limits of what can and can’t be shown publicly. Her fight for sexual freedom gave her an iconic status in the eyes of a whole generation. Ilona Staller was also the first porn star to be elected into a national parliament in 1987. In 1991 she married American artist Jeff Koons with whom she has a son, Ludwig. After putting an end to her porn career but without any regrets, she has kept fighting for sexual freedom in prison, for decriminalisation of drugs and against any form of censorship.
Lasse Braun: Braun is the king of Sex Revolution in the 60’s and 70’s. He fought his whole life for the diffusion of pornography in Europe and the United States. At the end of the 70’s he created in Stockholm the company AB Film and produced and directed dozens of films that became porn classics. In 1971 he met Reuben Sturman, the American inventor of the peep show, who became his business partner. in 1974 he was the first director to bring a porn film to the Cannes Film Festival. In 1977, after years of legal actions and successes, he retired from political activism to focus purely on directing and writing.
Giuliana Gamba: In the early 70’s Gamba became the first European female porn director under the name of Therese Dunn. That gave her an immediate cult status in the world of feminist pornography. She then chose to work in the field of erotic films before completely changing career as a documentary filmmaker and creating TV series for the Italian public broadcaster.
Helena Velena: writer, philosopher and record producer is one of the most interesting voices of Italian counter-culture. She defines herself as a “semiotic-psychedelic guerrilla”. She has been active since the Bologna Movimento del ‘77 movement, working as an announcer and DJ for Radio Alice. She was one of the main protagonists of the Italian punk movement, forming first the RAF Punk group and then establishing the Attack Punk Records label, which published fundamental bands of the Italian punk and hardcore scene, among others the first albums by CCCP Fedeli alla linea. In the late 1980’s her research radicalized around themes such as cyberpunk, transgender and the relationship between sexuality and new the communication technologies.
Written and Directed by Carmine Amoroso
Cinematography: Paolo Ferrari (aic-imago)
Produced by Patrizia Zoratti, Carmine Amoroso, Paolo Ferrari, Patrizio La Bella
Associate producer: Francesco Costabile
Editing: Luca Manes, Fabio Nunziata
Music: Fabrizio Fornaci
Sound: Alessio Costantino, Angelo Galeano, Paolo Testa
Sound editor: Stefano Di Fiore
With Riccardo Schicchi, Lasse Braun, Ilona Staller, Judith Malina, Giuliana Gamba, Lidia Ravera, Marco Pannella, Helena Velena, Marco Giusti, Achille Bonito Oliva
Visual Effects: Vincenzo di Natale
Colorist: Emanuele Pasquet
Production Management: Martina Spadano
In collaboration with Dana Stable and Patroclo Film
International distribution: WideHouse
Production of the event:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, and the Center for Urban Culture Kino Šiška, 2017