Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival — a not-so-average porn festival in its 14th year — hit the Bijou Art Cinema this past week with great success on two challenging fronts.
Firstly, the festival delivered a stunning curation — that’s right, a stunning curation of pornography — with a diverse array of love and sex, making the audience laugh, cry and blush warmly with arousal in the darkness of the small Bijou theater.
The collection began with a short introduction from Dan Savage; he parodied a White House press release, which provided much-needed giggles to break the ice for public porn consumption. He then laid some ground rules for a pleasant experience, both for the viewers and the producers of the films. The 20-something clips that followed were created by people looking to be “pornstars for the weekend, not forever on the internet,” according to Savage.
Each piece was one of countless submissions sent in to compete for a spot in the festival and cash prizes. The porn is curated by Savage — an internationally syndicated sex and relationships writer and host of the podcast Savage Lovecast — for inclusivity and character before being sent on a national tour.
Each scene serves an important purpose: filling in the gaps of representation regarding body types, sexuality, gender, ability, kink and artistic vision. Some clips elicited hoots and hollers and laughter — specifically when googly eyes went where no googly eyes have gone before. Other clips left the audience in uncomfortable silence — perhaps signaling a public realization where the limits of sexuality may have been pushed.
“HUMP! shows you what porn can be,” said a local educator who wishes to remain anonymous to avoid potential professional consequences. “People say that there is so much porn on the internet, but really there’s too much of the same. [HUMP! Film Festival] shows you vast diversity. In one night, you’ll see more different porn than you can imagine. In that way, it shows us how lacking we are in good, interesting, thoughtful and different porn.”
The organization also reported successful ticket sales in Eugene (and an ever-expanding national tour), despite the organization feeling the effects of FOSTA-SESTA legislation — two bills set in place to fight sex trafficking, that, consequently, have hurt the livelihood of legitimate businesses like Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival, as well as individuals in sex work.
FOSTA stands for the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, while SESTA stands for the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. These two bills were created by the U.S. House and Senate, respectively, in order to address online sex trafficking. According to Vox, these bills “have been hailed by advocates as a victory for sex trafficking victims” but contradict already existing rights that protect providers (like Facebook or Tumblr) from exactly what FOSTA-SESTA makes them responsible for: user-generated content. In more simple terms, it means that one guy could ruin it for the rest of us — including legitimate businesses like Dan Savage’s HUMP!
“Savage Lovecast is alive and well — but I don’t think they understand we are a part of the same family. We are all legally incorporated by the same people — with one of the top podcasts right now,” said Kevin Murphy, in explaining how HUMP! is the only one of Savage’s businesses affected. Murphy is a representative traveling with the festival.
In this instance, HUMP!’s requests to use Facebook and Instagram promotion services have been denied in order to minimize the platforms’ potential liability presumably because this business handles pornography — though not the production of it.
“Our Facebook is still active for now. If we were to continue to request or try to purchase ads, we could easily get deleted completely,” said Murphy. He continued, sharing that the point of HUMP! is being missed by the “new bias against sexuality and sexual expression” on the internet and one of its most monopolized parts — Facebook.
Despite HUMP!’s challenges in the face of FOSTA-SESTA, the ticket sales and community feedback would indicate a desire for more thoughtful, intimate porn instead of the homogenous films created by industrial producers.
Without the help of social media, more responsibility falls to the individual to seek out what they desire. Murphy said 80 people were in attendance for each of the first five showings Wednesday through Thursday night. The final four showings on Friday and Saturday were sold out and even inspired a waiting line for people to claim idle tickets that others didn’t show up to use.
“This isn’t the show that you’d come to with a box of Kleenex and some lube under a big jacket,” said Murphy. “This is quite literally a window into other people’s passions and desires.”