Cinekink: The thinking person’s traveling erotic film fest

madison young
Image of Madison Young, whose Writers and Rockstars might just be the belle of the festival; this image is from her last film Undone, via her Tied4Sex site.

I’m so very excited that CineKink is this weekend here in San Francisco — and the refined, indy, edgy traveling eroto-porn film fest might be coming to a major city near you. If it does, don’t miss it. This year’s selections look fantastic. I was lucky to get a minute of Lisa Vandever’s time to ask her questions about the festival, explicit film, Hollywood eroticism, and finding hot new porn, which is what comprises this week’s San Francisco Chronicle column, Have Highbrow Porn, Will Travel: Violet Blue investigates CineKink, the X-rated Sundance. Snip:

When I was finally old enough to walk into a women-owned sex shop, I got my paws on one of their adult video catalogs. Packed with porn handpicked by women and reviewed by staff, I felt I’d finally hit the girly gold mine, and I rushed home to the Haight to pore over the lurid box covers and make my rental list. Descriptions of “breathtaking cinematography” and “riveting chemistry” pulled me in, and I planned a surprise I hoped my boyfriend and I would never forget. Good porn: I’d finally found you.

They only fooled me twice. When I got the videos home, they were little different than the arousal-killing bombs I’d rented from the store on Divisadero with the Western-style swinging doors in the back. Why, I agonized, why can’t anyone make good porn?

Well, they do make good porn; it’s just not terribly easy to find amid all the noise and hype, online and off — let alone the kind of erotic cinema that film fans would dig (or get off to). That’s where Lisa Vandever comes in. A producer and consultant with more than fifteen years’ experience in film and television, Vandever founded the nationally touring, sexually explicit (and very popular) film festival CineKink in 2002. The festival selects, awards and tours sex-positive, edgy and, especially, arousing film and television selections from mainstream porn to indies, Hollywood and beyond. CineKink’s erotic shorts, sexploitation compilations, mainstream porn and nonporn releases, documentaries and more have toured nine major U.S. and Canadian cities. Starting tomorrow, CineKink has this year’s top picks screening at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I caught up with Vandever to ask her how this groundbreaking festival came together, how porn is changing, and where we can find the good stuff.

Violet Blue: How did the CineKink festival start?
Lisa Vandever: Just prior to starting up CineKink, at the same time I was working in film development for a small NYC production company, I helped create a small S/M film festival. After spending so much time reading and toiling over film projects that never quite got off the ground, it was really exhilarating to have something come together and actually happen. And it was especially exciting to have two of my passions — sex and movies! — combined into one outlet. I wanted to expand that experience into something with a wider focus, one that encompassed all aspects of alternative sexuality, and, out of that, CineKink was born.

VB: Where do the film fest selections come from; how do you find them?
LV: Since part of the intent of CineKink is to break down the perceived differences between “porn” and “film,” including works that are explicit and those that are not, we do a call for entries that goes out through both independent and adult filmmaking channels. In addition, I try to catch what I can at other festivals and get recommendations over the course of the year from fellow curators, past CineKink filmmakers and a few trusted scouts. For the more mainstream offerings, I spend a lot of time gleaning what I can from film descriptions in festival catalogs and Web sites, hoping coded phrases like “dark romantic obsession” and “twisted love triangle” will lead me to the mother lode. (…read more!)

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  • huge

    Hey! I know the video store on Divis of which you speak, with the swinging doors. Lived within blocks of that place for years, and surprisingly had decent luck with their porn selection. Will never forget my first time seeing a woman get off with a toilet plunger. Thanks for taking me back!

  • Cinekink is a really wonderful event, every year, and they really do have a great range from XXX hotness to thinkier but still hot pieces. I’m really glad Lisa it taking their show on the road. It’s also a different experience (for me, anyway) to watch those kinds of films with a large group of people, rather than at home in private.

  • yay! I just bought my tickets :)

  • Great work! Wonderful blog! Linked! ‘Favorited’!

  • Agile Cyborg

    I’m fucking bored sick of porn. I do, however, immensely enjoy extreme adult entertainment with a strong artistic and original bent to it. Vandever is offering a rich prurient experience designed for those who prefer depth and complexity in their sexuality- certainly a link worth posting by the nibbler.

  • Kaija

    Damn…this is awesome! Now I just pray that the “nine major cities” will include one that my budget will allow me to travel to. This kind of festival/film/porn sounds like exactly what I would wish for…art and sex and creativity aimed at a variety of sexualities and proclivities. Would definitely be a treat after having to avoid all the BAD porn out there (a pox on traditional male sexuality and their boring insistence on the sad bad crap!). This would totally be a GREAT date night with my kind-of-traditional-thanks-to-conservative-childhood-but-openly-looking-to-expand boyfriend ;) Hooray for gutsy women like Lisa Vandever and thanks, Violet for letting us all in the know!