Lust For Life

New Edmonton festival celebrates queer, feminist porn

SmutFest brings a new edge to queer feminist porn

“Feminist porn as a movement and as a genre, challenges the stigma and shame around sex, sexuality and bodies, and aims to smash the systems of oppression that foster that stigma by not recreating them in the production, distribution and consumption of films.”

There’s a new event to add to your summer festival calendar: SmutFest. It was the idea of Edmontonians Kiyl Keys, Kristina Laban and KoKo Carlson and is a celebration of queer feminist porn, set to make its debut this August.

There is already a yearly feminist-porn awards ceremony and festival in Toronto, but Keys, Laban and Carlson say SmutFest will be different. First of all, it will include a variety of media, not just film.

“We acknowledge that film pornography is not accessible to everyone for whatever reason,” Laban says. “We wanted to make a space for folks to create smutty, sexy content in a way that works for them.”

SmutFest is also different than other festivals that rate submissions and pick winners. At this festival, there will be no awards, just a display of the work, a chance for producers to discuss their work if they want and a celebration. The organizers hope this will inspire comfort, creativity and authenticity.

“Having people perform or make what they personally enjoy rather than what they think will get the most votes is important to me,” Carlson says.

The call for submissions asks for consensual, queer-friendly, sex-positive feminist creations. Just why did they choose these things in particular? Keys says consent is a key component of ethically produced porn. People can, and many do, freely choose to be involved in porn and they want SmutFest to reflect the importance of that free choice. As for queer-friendly, Laban says, “We wanted a space for non-conforming folks to celebrate their bodies, themselves and their sexuality.”

This stands in pretty stark contrast to mainstream porn, which tends to exclude anyone whose body doesn’t conform to a certain standard of sexy. Keys says feminist porn is important because, “Feminist porn as a movement and as a genre, challenges the stigma and shame around sex, sexuality and bodies, and aims to smash the systems of oppression that foster that stigma by not recreating them in the production, distribution and consumption of films.”

It sounds like a tall order, yet at the same time, it seems open and welcoming to all types of expression. But regardless of their aspirations, the stigma of shame about sex is pretty strong. I wondered if there were people in Edmonton with enough comfort with their bodies and their sexuality to put themselves out there like that. Yes, according to Carlson, there are.

“We are talking to submitters who are different sizes, colours, genders with a wide array of desires, which is what we were hoping for,” she notes.

SmutFest has extended its original deadline for submissions from July 1 to July 21 to give people more time to get their work in. If you’ve been inspired to make some art, you can get more information at prairieoysterentertainment@gmail.com.

SmutFest will take place on August 23 at Latitude 53 gallery. The screening will be in the afternoon from three until six—”We want to bring sex and porn into the daylight,” Keys says—with an after party from 9 pm until late. Tickets are on a sliding scale from $5 to $15 and are available online at smutfest2014.bpt.me. V

Brenda Kerber is a sexual health educator who has worked with local not-for-profits since 1995. She is the owner of the Edmonton-based, sex-positive adult toy boutique the Traveling Tickle Trunk.

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