Melenas Siafakas is the person behind Athens Porn Film Festival. He answered us some questions about the differences between porn and artistic porn, about this year’s porn festival and the online streaming of the greek shorts by pinklabel.tv
So Menelas, can you tell us about the history of Athens porn festival? How did it all started?
As an artist I have always been interested in sexuality, being myself a very sexual person. After having lived in Scotland for almost two decades I returned to Greece to find that society had remained conservative and hypocritical. When I saw Panagiotis Evangelidis’ porn “Summer Romance”, a spark lit up inside me: I could also make porn that is artistic. And since 2015 I have been making art-porn and visiting European porn film festivals and I have been thinking: “Why not Athens?” We did have, up until 2012, the Berlin Porn Film Festival in Athens as a great event but now we have nothing. Last year, I was asked to present a Greek Queer Porn programme at the Vienna PFF and upon the encouragement of the organisers I started working on my dream of making a festival in Athens.
What are your criteria about good porn?
Even as a consumer of porn I have always been fascinated about plot. As a film fanatic I was always appreciating the film aspects of it. As a festival director I am looking for aesthetics, meaning and humour.
Do you have any comments about the submissions you have received?
As a festival that does not pay to play the selected films we are only as good as the submissions. We were very happy to receive over 130 film submissions and the quality of the majority was very good. As Porn Film Festival Berlin has been running for 13 years now, filmmakers are very aware of what is the standard. The selection process took us down to 85 films in 12 categories/programmes. The BDSM programme is going to be called Prometheus Shorts after the titan that was bound on a rock and tortured daily by an eagle.
Were there any difficulties or weird reactions during the organization of the festival?
The real difficulty in Athens was to find a cinema that would be willing to host it. Most cinemas didn’t answer our inquiry email. We had a sex cinema refuse the opportunity and another cinema politely refuse but, giving us support and advice over coffee. The only cinema that was willing to take on the gamble was Trianon and we are very grateful.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus and quarantine caused a problem for all kind of festivals. Are there any new dates?
As there is no news about when indoors cinemas will re-open, we cannot plan for anything more specific than Autumn.
Tell us about the cooperation with pinklabel.tv
I met the people behind it at the Berlin PFF industry event and we entered into correspondence about streaming some of my films there. PinkLabel.TV is an excellent platform that streams good quality queer porn. When the COVID-19 issue started they sent an email around to festival organisers offering their services as an online platform. I didn’t want to stream the whole festival, as I want it to be an Athenian event. But I came up with the idea of the Greek Shorts Programme, where, Greek short films would be available worldwide. Kind of like putting the Hellenic world onto the map of porn films.
Can you clarify for us the differences between porn and artistic porn?
Commercial porn, as I call it, comes from big studios and has one very specific goal behind it: to make money. As the internet revolution has hit that industry very hard, they are resorting to the usual tricks of the Hollywood filmmaking machine: more violence, faster action, bigger explosions, less plot and less character development. As the industry caters to the audience which is predominately male, commercial porn follows the male gaze: objectification of women, perfect bodies, big tits and cocks, focus on penetration and ejaculation. In art-porn the focus is the opposite: aesthetics, real sex, real bodies and genitalia, consent, equal regard between sexes, alternative sexualities and sexual practices, political messages and humour. Cross-overs between the commercial and art-porn is not only possible but it’s also welcome!
How is it possible to support the Greek porn scene and help it grow bigger?
The Greek porn scene is very small, we only have one big studio and a couple of small independent studios. I think the influence of the Greek-Orthodox church is mainly to blame for our lack of public conversation about sex and sexuality. In Mediterranean cultures, we are very sexual, but we do not talk about it, sexuality happens behind closed doors only. The only countries to have escaped this and made a real effort to create a porn scene are: Spain and Israel. My hope is that the Athens Porn Film Festival will become an inspiration for local artistic porn creation by giving it a nurturing space to develop.
What are your desires for the future of Athens porn film festival?
First of all, I would like for the festival to happen! Then, I would like for the festival to create conversations around sexual practices and sexuality for the general public. I would like it to spark artistic porn creation in Athens, Greece and Cyprus by creating its own little community. And then I would like the resulting creations to become part of the international scene. I would like it to become a mark of joyful anticipation on people’s calendars, like Christmas, but for art porn fans and creators.
Five short films from Greece And Cyprus, which will NOT be screened together in the festival, will bring you: very useful online tutorials, beautiful landscapes and BDSM, a sapphic journey to the clitoris, magical orgies in caves and finally a comical 70/80s porn homage. We are bringing you all the flavours of Greek art-porn!
As the Greek government is NOT giving any funds to artists and sexworkers in these hard times, we have decided to donate 10% of the proceeds to each movie and the rest to the Red Umbrella Athens fund that supports Greek sexworkers. #supportartworkers#supportsexworkers