Art House Sex Film: Anna Brownfield’s The Band
The indie sex and rock feature film The Band (2009) by Australian Anna Brownfield (1971) stands out from all other new porn by women. In 2009, The Band was the opening film at the Berlin Porn Festival and was also shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Brownfield’s film gives association to Michael Winterbottom’s 9 songs (2004) and John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus (2006), films along with which Brownfield classifies her own: art house films with hardcore sex.
The Band is a cinematically sound film, driven by raw catchy punk-rock music and hardcore sex. The music was composed by the Melbourne-based band Moscow Schoolboy, with the PJ Harvey-esque vocalist Jess Cornelius. And the acting is strong, with performers who fit their parts: believable punk-rock band members with their ups and downs.
Photography and cinematography are striking on this film, for which Brownfield gives director of photography Sanne Kurz much of the credit. The pictures are exceptional in the depth, layers, and textures that they convey, communicating excitement, heat, and passion, as well as affection and tenderness; all of which is further emphasized by the nuanced soundtrack that captures the sensations of licking and touching. Shot on a Panasonic AG-HVX200 camera with its variable shooting speed, the sex numbers are shot in true slow motion, which gives them a fluid quality.
In content the film pushes boundaries, portraying a range of sexual relations and experiences that include fetishes and gender bending encounters, without being pedagogically preachy or overtly politically activist. The film follows the rock group Gutter Filth on tour through clubs and rundown bars with their own groupie in tow. The vocalist and front figure for the band, the sexy but smug Jimmy Taranto, decides early on to give his solo career a shot and drops both the group and his girlfriend, Candy, a beautiful long-limbed and long-haired young woman who’s too good for him anyway. The rest of the band, with bassist G.B., who looks like a younger version of Mick Jagger, and drummer Dee, a lean black-haired man with a fondness for women’s attire and black eye makeup, decide with their manager, the caring and inconspicuously butch Jennifer with dreadlocks and piercings, to choose Candy as their new front figure. The record company wants to test the audience response to the new vocalist and sends the band on tour in the backblocks. The tour is successful and the band’s new single with Candy reaches number one on the top hit list, while Jimmy’s popularity falls to the bottom.
The Band won the award for Hottest Feature Film at the Feminist Porn Awards in 2010. The film is distributed to audiences in the United States and Canada by Breaking Glass Pictures. View the trailer here:
(This post is an excerpt from my book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters, forthcoming fall 2012.)