HUMP! opens minds, one DIY porno at a time

The 15th annual HUMP! Film Festival hosted a wide range of pornography, including BDSM, roleplay and paper stop-motion. Photo courtesy of Lauren Max Winkelman

If someone in your Monday morning math class were to casually mention that they spent their Saturday night attending a porn festival, it is reasonable to assume you may think twice before scheduling that study session. Rest assured, though, if your classmate spent the evening at the 15th annual HUMP! Film Festival, their experience may not have been what you think. 

HUMP! offers a unique opportunity to engage with porn in a way that deprioritizes the immediate pleasure of the viewer. This would not be the place to go for the type of gratification one might be seeking from a quick tryst with Pornhub. Instead, the audience is invited to view these films with a different goal in mind: to witness and appreciate the many varied ways of engaging with the ideas of pleasure, fantasy and sexual expression. 

This year’s films ranged in content from group sex, BDSM and intimate roleplaying sessions between partners to the rediscovery of sexual pleasure post-kids. The lineup even included a paper stop-motion film. While some more traditional porn was certainly present, not all films featured explicit sexual activity. One of the films, “Adé in Bed,” simply featured an in-bed interview about sex, sexuality             and identity.

The actors in these films were not porn actors. Anyone can submit videos to HUMP! for consideration, and the producers are careful that these films do not ever make their way online. Phones are strictly prohibited during screenings, on pain of losing your precious mobile for good (yes, the posted security guards will take your phone away). Many of the films were made to be shown exclusively at HUMP! When this was the case, filmmakers were encouraged to slip in some special tokens to clue the audience in. This year’s key items? Confetti, Jello shots and TSA agents. Someone in uniform, a dive bar Jello shot (always red) or an orgasm punctuated with confetti were met with a chorus of whoops. It was as if the audience had been let in on a special secret: an intimate moment made to be shared for the pleasure of a weekend actor. 

This year’s HUMP! films were complex and inclusive in both identity and sexual orientation. In this way, they distinguished themselves from the samesy stuff of Brazzers, made to appeal to every other John Doe’s Oedipus complex. In many of the films, gender fluidity played a subtle role; not overtly the center of attention, but still important and present. 

Again and again, these films normalized and amplified varied forms of sexual expression, turning faux pas into perfect fantasy. Anyone opposed to the idea of pet play would have swooned for the romance of “Good Kitty.” Another film, depicting the ushering of just-a-simple-country-boy into the world of rubber play, made it clear that kink is pretty cool, especially when everyone is enthusiastically consenting. A DnD-themed bit of role-play made safe sex fun (who knew you are supposed to be wearing gloves?). Turns out in real life, it is almost as easy as casting Shield of Faith on your genitals. 

HUMP! makes it clear that the media and porn have the power to shape viewers’ expectations and attitudes towards sex. Rather than just quick-and-dirty gratification, these more inclusive films serve to open minds to all types of sexual identity and activity, and perhaps most importantly, foster a learning environment for what “good” sex can and should be.

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