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James Franco brings porn to Sundance

posted 23 Jan 2013, 16:47 by Sam Mbale

James Franco explores bondage porn and gay sex in two film projects at Sundance.

RABBITBANDINI PRODUCTIONS -  James Franco may be known for his mainstream movie and television roles, but he has recently been putting energy into more edgy and artistic projects. At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Franco was showing two films, both about the sex industry.

Franco's documentary, called "kink," takes a look behind the curtain at the world of producing pornographic bondage movies. Franco and director Christine Voros went behind the scenes at the studios of kink.com, conducting interviews and filming footage of daily life at the company.

For Franco, the need to show what really is going on is what motivated his involvement in the project.

"In a lot of ways, our world, no matter what it is, becomes so polished," said Franco. "Whether it's social media and the way we present ourselves to each other or movies or whatever. A way to find something that feels a little more real or closer to life is to look at the making of, to look at the behind the scenes."

Sexuality and pornography are often marginalized subjects and not part of widely released films or in local theaters. For Franco, having a documentary about BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sadomasochism) showing at Sundance is a major milestone for the film and the subject matter.

"Very important for this project. Because it involved subject matter that maybe in the past could easily be pushed to marginal outlets or fringe outlets," said Franco. "The fact that it's here, that it's getting the kind of attention it is, but also the way that it gets to be talked about because it is here, I think, changes the film, makes the film different because people see it with different kinds of glasses."

Franco's other sexually themed project at Sundance is the drama "Interior. Leather Bar.," which he co-directed and also somewhat stars in, as himself.

The film originated from the idea to re-imagine the 40 minutes of lost footage from Al Pacino's "Cruising," and as Franco said, morphed into an exploration of filmmaking and sexual freedom.

In the current climate of books like "Fifty Shades of Grey" sitting on the best seller list, the public appetite and acceptance of what might be described as more risqué sexual content appears to be growing.

"It's highlighting the fact that there is this big audience. I think it's pretty well documented that porn has a huge audience and in a lot of ways is in the forefront of the field because there is such a high demand for it," said Franco. "So you can see porn going to video before anything, the way porn was distributed on the internet before everything. It really leads the field and that's partly because there is such a high demand. But it sometimes takes particular projects or particular things to put it in the forefront of everyone's mind or make it okay to talk about or acceptable to talk about in certain ways."

Franco also has a small role in the biopic about "Deep Throat" star Linda Lovelace, playing sexual revolution pioneer Hugh Hefner. "Lovelace" also made its debut at this year's Sundance festival.