#letSEXplore: The ZFF Dedicates Itself to Desire

02. September 2021

Each year, the Zurich Film Festival’s "Hashtag" section shines a spotlight on a highly topical issue. The hashtag chosen for the 17th ZFF, #letSEXplore, is all about sex – uninhibited and in all its many forms.

Hashtag Collage


Sex is frowned upon, yet it is the most natural thing in the world. Our society’s obsession with the subject never wanes, but it is in a state of constant change: so – four years after #MeToo – what does our relationship with sex look like today? And how does contemporary cinema deal with sexual content? Are we moving away from a prude and sensationalist approach towards a more colourful and normalising one?

This is the fourth time since 2018 that the ZFF has implemented its “Hashtag” section. This year is dedicated to a multifaceted, reflective and relaxed approach to the topic of sexuality and desire.

“MeToo has fundamentally changed the way we approach sex, particularly in the film industry,” says Artistic Director Christian Jungen. “Many commentators predicted that we were entering an age of neo-prudery. We would like to use our 'Hashtag' section to demonstrate how we have changed the way we view our bodies. It has become more diverse, with onscreen lovers as well as the directors who film them exploring new forms of love. #letSEXplore is a series of sensual, life-affirming films for an urban, open-minded audience.”

“We have noticed a normalisation of sexuality in films,” say Christine Albrecht and Aurel Graf, programmers of the #letSEXplore section. “It is no longer dominated by the ‘male gaze’ where women are presented from a purely heterosexual male perspective. In PLEASURE, a film about a 20-year-old Swedish woman who travels to the USA to become a porn star, for example, the male genitalia are much more prominent than the female. And when three young lads set out to experience their first time with a sex worker in DEATH OF A VIRGIN, AND THE SIN OF NOT LIVING, the film deconstructs gender norms. Queer characters are also no longer defined by their sexuality, and categories are becoming increasingly fluid. LES OLYMPIADES, for example, follows young people in the 13th district of Paris as they explore new forms of friendship and sexuality, also practicing same-sex love without a second thought. The film shows with light-heartedness and humour that sex is more and more simply a part of life, even in cinema.”

The "Hashtag" section programme comprises five feature films and three documentary films.

ICT4Peace and Ceylor are Official Partners of the "Hashtag" section.

The complete programme of the 17th Zurich Film Festival (23.09.-03.10.) will be published on Thursday, September 9, from 12 noon on our Website. It can also be viewed on the official festival app Tribo, where a personal festival programme can be compiled as well. Ticket sales start at 12 noon on September 13.

PLEASURE


PLEASURE

Premiere in the German-language realm | Drama | Sweden, Netherlands, France, 2021
Director: Ninja Thyberg
Cast: Sofia Kappel, Revika Anne Reustle, Kendra Spade, Dana DeArmond, Evelyn Claire

20-year-old Linnéa aka "Bella Cherry" wants to become the next big porn star. Having arrived in Los Angeles, she quickly realises that she can only rise to the top if she is willing to serve all sexual fantasies – even those that involve pain and humiliation. With explicit, aesthetic as well as oppressive scenes, PLEASURE takes us into a merciless, male-dominated business in which lust, violence and power seem inseparable.

   

BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN


BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN / BABARDEALǍ CU BUCLUC SAU PORNO BALAMUC

Swiss Premiere | Drama | Romania, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Croatia, 2021
Director: Radu Jude
Cast: Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Mǎlai, Nicodim Ungureanu, Alexandru Potocean

Nobody was supposed to see the sex video, Emi just wanted to have some fun with her husband. But the film ends up on the Internet and Emi’s job as a teacher is in jeopardy. Director Radu Jude presents an unflinching and highly amusing account of the hypocritical double standards of our society and the real obscenities of everyday life. The film scooped the main prize at the 2021 Berlinale.

  

A SEXPLANATION


A SEXPLANATION

European Premiere | Documentary: People & Society | USA, UK, 2021
Director: Alex Liu

Let’s talk about sex, baby! After being drilled as a teenager in high school sex ed about how shameful his own pleasure is, now adult filmmaker Alex Liu embarks on a mission to overcome shame. He meets with professionals, friends and family to talk about such taboo subjects as pornography and masturbation. Packed with humour, and a whole load of naked truths, the film normalises an often avoided discourse.

 

DEATH OF A VIRGIN, AND THE SIN OF NOT LIVING


DEATH OF A VIRGIN, AND THE SIN OF NOT LIVING

Swiss Premiere | Coming of Age | Lebanon, 2021
Director: George Peter Barbari
Cast: Etienne Assal, Adnan Khabbaz, Elias Saad, Jean Pierre Frangieh, Feyrouz AbouHassan

Today, they want to become real men. Etienne and Adnan have scraped together the last of their money and arranged to meet a sex worker. On the way there, they brag like machos, their inner monologues, however, reveal how nervous and vulnerable they really are. The film sensitively exposes the desires and fears of its characters, who are growing up between modern and conservative ideas in Lebanon.

  

LES OLYMPIADES / PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT


LES OLYMPIADES / PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT

Premiere in the German-language realm | Drama | France, 2021
Director: Jacques Audiard
Cast: Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba, Noémie Merlant, Jehnny Beth, Camille Léon-Fucien

The teacher Camille becomes roommates with fun-loving Émilie. Even without romantic feelings, they live out their mutual physical attraction – with regular and uncomplicated abandon. Then Camille's interest in the student Nora is also piqued. Everyone wants non-commitment – but how long can you keep your feelings out? Dynamic black-and-white images depict the inner world of a young and volatile generation.

  

THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE


THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE

Premiere in the German-language realm | Documentary: People & Society | USA, 2020
Director: Maria Finitzo
Protagonists: Dr. Stacey Dutton, Sophia Wallace, Dr. Lisa Diamond, Ti Chang

A biologist teaches students about the structure of the clitoris. A psychologist dispels age-old myths. An industrial designer develops elegant vibrators, and a conceptual artist illustrates the importance of the clitoris. The unstoppable women portrayed in this film defy patriarchal ignorance and celebrate female pleasure to create a new body consciousness.

  

ALL EYES OFF ME


ALL EYES OFF ME / MISHEHU YOHAV MISHEHU

Swiss Premiere | Romantic Drama | Israel, 2021
Director: Hadas Ben Aroya
Cast: Elisheva Weil, Leib Lev Levin, Yoav Hait, Hadar Katz

Danny is searching for Max to tell him about her unplanned pregnancy. Max is with his girlfriend Avishag, giving in to her sexual fantasies. A surprising familiarity develops between Avishag and her older neighbour Dror. A generational picture of young Israelis who pretend to be open and unattached, but long for closeness is reflected in three loosely linked chapters.

  

BECAUSE OF MY BODY


BECAUSE OF MY BODY

Documentary: Peopley & Society | Italy, 2020
Director: Francesco Cavanná
Protagonists: Claudia Muffi, Marco Purzo

21-year-old Claudia, who suffers from spina bifida, wants to explore her sexual needs. She hires Marco, who is currently taking a course as a "love giver" – a project that helps physically disabled people discover their bodies and sexuality. A powerful film portrait of an incredibly open protagonist who offers us insight into her emotional and physical journey.


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