From Orgies and Bondage to Porn, a Steamy Slate at Sundance This Year

Mid-Sundance Check-In
The Lifeguard John Peters

This year’s edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the premier showcase for independent cinema, marked a major departure from festivals past. In a watershed moment for female cinéastes, half of the 16 films competing in the Sundance Dramatic Competition were directed by women.

But the biggest story at the festival, running from Jan. 17 to 27 in Park City, Utah, centered on the crossing of a far racier threshold. While Sundance has a history of playing host to kinky fare, ranging from X-rated documentary Inside Deep Throat to the pornographic short-film compilation Destricted, sex in its myriad forms has never been as prevalent as it was at the 2013 festival. And boy, oh boy, was there sex. From bondage porn to orgies, here is the cream of the lascivious crop.

BDSM
BDSM, for the uninitiated, is short for: bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism. The racy practice is captured in two X-rated, James Franco–shepherded documentaries at this year’s festival. Kink, a documentary produced by Franco and directed by his pal Christina Voros, explores the BDSM website Kink.com and includes scene after scene of penetration footage. Meanwhile, Interior. Leather Bar., directed by Franco and Travis Matthews, re-creates the 40 lost minutes of leather-bound gay-sex scenes in William Friedkin’s 1980 cult classic, Cruising. Both films feature raw, unsimulated sex scenes and are not for the sheepish.
 

Porn
Two of the most hotly anticipated titles premiering at Sundance explored pornography from opposite ends of the spectrum. There’s Don Jon’s Addiction, marking the feature-film-making debut of the ubiquitous Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also stars as a womanizing, testosterone-heavy 20-something who must overcome his crippling addiction to porn if he is ever to find a meaningful sexual relationship. And Lovelace, from the filmmaking duo of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, features a very nude Amanda Seyfried (fresh off her turn as the waifish Cosette in Les Misérables) as the titular star of the highest-grossing porno flick of all time, Deep Throat.
 

Cougars
While there are always a plethora of fur-clad cougars prowling industry parties during the festival, they got on-screen time this year as well. In Anne Fontaine’s Two Mothers, Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play longtime friends who engage in a bizarre ménage à quatre, sleeping with each other’s young sons. A Teacher, directed by Hannah Fidell, follows a female high-school instructor who has a tabloid-ready romance with one of her male students, while Liz W. Garcia’s directorial debut, The Lifeguard, stars Kristen Bell as a disillusioned 29-year-old journalist who quits her job, moves back home, and gets a job as a local lifeguard. Things soon take a dark turn, however, when she gets swept up in a torrid affair with the 16-year-old son of the pool’s groundskeeper.

Mid-Sundance Check-In Very Good Girls Jessica Miglio

First Times
The sexual awakening of young girls has always been a cornerstone of Sundance—think 1996’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, which won the Grand Jury Prize for best dramatic feature—and this year was no different. In Very Good Girls, a pair of 17-year-old New York gals, played by Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, hope to lose their virginity during their last summer before heading off to college—but things get a bit complicated when they both fall for the same guy. And Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) plays a virtuous, nerdy, and virginal outcast who falls for a gregarious booze-loving classmate in James Ponsoldt’s coming-of-age drama The Spectacular Now.

Mid-Sundance Check-In The Look of Love Charlie Gray

The Kitchen Sink
A pair of films at this year’s festival boasted too many varied sex scenes to even keep count. Filmmaker Michael Winterbottom—whose previous Sundance entry 9 Songs featured unsimulated sex scenes—helmed The Look of Love, starring comedian and longtime collaborator Steve Coogan as London porn-baron-cum-real-estate-tycoon Paul Raymond, who participates in multiple group-sex scenes. And Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way from Harry Potter with his starring role as beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the risqué drama Kill Your Darlings, dramatizing David Kammerer’s real-life murder by Lucien Carr. In the film, Radcliffe is on the giving and receiving end of sex from both men and women.

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