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Angie Rowntree, the Rebel of Feminist Porn: “Pleasure Empowers Us, It Humanizes Us”

We met the founder of Sssh.com, who tells us her way to represent sexuality and her last two films.

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Continuing our journey into the world of feminist porn and its short films. This time our coverage of sexuality representation far from the mainstream shores gets us onto Sssh.com, the oldest feminist porn site on the web having started in 1999. Founder and director Angie Rowntree has spoken at SXSW with Shine Louise Houston (CrashPad Series) about using explicit sex as a film making tool and at Sundance.

Sssh.com is part of Ethical.Porn, the platform “for complex, critical, ongoing discussion of ‘ethical’ as it pertains to adult content production.” We interviewed Angie Rowntree on the occasion of Sssh.com 20th anniversary and she told us about her mission and her last two films, the feature Invictus and the short Alla Prima.

Un'immagine di Invictus

Angie presents herself with no frills: “I’m an erotic filmmaker by trade, a pescetarian by choice, and a lover of animals by way of an irresistible, lifelong compulsion. I also love a good story, be it hard and true, or fantastically fictional. I became a filmmaker to tell stories, both my own and those I’ve been privileged to have others share with me and generously allow me to tell on their behalf. I don’t make erotica to shock viewers, or merely to titillate them; I want people to engage with my characters, to feel what they feel, and to absorb it all emotionally and viscerally, rather than simply take in a spectacle with their eyes alone. I’ve led something of a complicated life myself, which may be why I like challenging narratives which track complex emotional journeys – quintessentially human tales, in which the characters and the viewer are tested, and from which they emerge triumphant, inspired and whole. I believe in the enduring, undying power of passion. Whatever challenges you encounter, whatever opportunities come your way, meet them with all the passion you can muster. Passion doesn’t guarantee success, but it does guarantee you giving your best effort – and that’s all life can ask of us.”

The director retraces for us her interest in the adult entertainment industry: “I love exploring the more challenging stories, and I don’t think they’re at all inconsistent or incompatible with an erotic film. Sex is part of the human experience, and to me, it’s more compelling when it’s depicted in the broader context of life, which is why the underlying story is such a prominent part of my movies. It’s empowering to depict women in charge of their own bodies and desires. There is a need for female-driven stories, to balance the largely male oriented fantasies that we currently see. There is a need for movies presented from a female perspective with an emphasis on mutual pleasure. It empowers us. It humanizes us. It tells our stories. To be clear, I don’t think there’s a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to depict sex in films; I’m just talking about what’s right for me as a director. There’s no shortage of adult content out there, obviously, and an enormous range of types and genres, so people can find whatever they are looking for. I’m just offering an alternative. Sex is a wonderful tool. Like music, it helps to build or create emotion and tension.”

Un'immagine di Alla Prima

This year Angie directed two more differently themed movies: a political thriller and an art piece. The reason is quite simple: “I’m always inclined to push my own boundaries, because I think it’s an important thing for a filmmaker to do. It’s part of how humanity progresses and evolves. If we didn’t push boundaries, we’d all still be making silent films. As for the themes and stories I tackle, I love exploring heavy, challenging emotional narratives. I believe the films we remember are the ones we connect with and life is complicated, so it’s important to take those risks.”

Invictus, written by Rowntree and adult features and erotic fiction writer Kitten Boheme, tells the story of scientist Jane Darling (played by Delirious Hunter), a woman determined to fight the social and environmental decay into which the world has descended. As she struggles to survive, she encounters Paul Young (Joeydotrawr), a journalist who escaped the government’s crackdown on the independent press. Paul joins Jane on her quest to fight back against the forces, which continue to tear the world apart.

In its simplicity, Invictus tackles themes such as man-made climate change, the independence of the press and the propaganda model of the Western media, the repeated political failures which led to post-Trumpian terminally capitalism. Not bad for a “simple” porn.

Lead actress Delirious Hunter is glad that finally she could perform her unconventional work in a peaceful and laid-back manner: “All three sex scenes are so unique and exquisitely executed that they take my breath away. Each scene creates a perfect blend (or ménage à trois if you will!) of cinema, art, and sex”.

Delirious Hunter e Joeydotrawr in una scena di Invictus

Alla Prima, written by Rowntree and bestselling author of erotic romance Candace Osmond (The Devil’s Heart), is an immersive experience in the “colours of desire.” Ava Mir-Ausziehen and Malcolm Lovejoy are a couple who blows up blues and golds on the screen as soon as their bodies come in contact. They make love on a blank canvas and slowly immerse themselves into the creation of something elevated by their pleasure in one another.

> Click on the image to watch the video

In that case, Angie tells us the different origins of this participatory project: “I think we should tell the stories we see when we close our eyes. Alla Prima was one of those stories. A member had suggested making love on a canvas (all our movie ideas are crowdsourced). I took it a little further. I felt using colour to represent desire was unique. A visual representation of passion and sex. The movie opens in black and white (a format I love as it can be very moody). A couple is stretching a canvas, but you cannot see the artwork. As they hold up the canvas to admire, the woman flashes back to it being created. As her passion grows, colour slowly returns to the frame, starting with the blue streak on her body.”

Ava Mir-Ausziehen e Malcolm Lovejoy in una scena di Alla Prima

All very simple and quite straightforward. Just like sex.

Alessandro Zoppo

Alessandro Zoppo

Editor-in-Chief @ Good Short Films

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