Editor’s Note: This film festival review includes spoilers.
“Facehugger vagina,” “confetti jizz,” “cheese grater on nipples,” and “anal wine glass.”
These are only some of the notes we took while experiencing the infamous annual traveling HUMP! Film Festival, Dan Savage’s grand tour of five-minute, independent porn flicks that began Feb. 10 in Seattle, Washington and screened between Mar. 17-19 in Eugene at the Broadway Metro. It is also the first to pop one of our film festival cherries — there, John said it! There is a lot to say about our time with Savage’s 2022 collection. We never would have imagined that our first return to a fully-packed, unmasked movie theater would be one that would leave us bewildered, laughing, shocked, reminiscent, and horny all at the same time.
HUMP! began in 2005 and is an American film festival featuring a collection of sexually explicit short films that range in categories. There has been hentai, home-movie erotica, experimental, science-fiction, music videos, and many other types shown over the years. Traditionally, it’s requested that films are to be made solely for the festival, but that has not always been the case. Some go beyond to achieve commercial success, such as “How to Get a Leg Up in Porn” by Gloria Brame, an American therapist and author.
We both arrived at our screenings unsure of what to expect. But then, Savage appeared, large and in-charge on the silver screen to ease us into the festival. In his introduction, he spoke a bit about his joy in being able to premiere in theaters again, and then proceeded to state the rules: no phones, no assholes—specifically those who make jokes at the expense of the actors—and to have fun. But not too much fun!
That has to do with the last rule: no masturbating.
Savage then made a call for submission. For films. They are open to anyone and everyone with a camera and a “rock-hard” idea. His final words are a bit of a game for the audience. This is to keep an eye out for the festival’s specific props including honey, roller skates, and a pitchfork.
‘Nuff said. At this point, we were already on the edge of our seats.
Genuinely, we do not want to give much away, even beyond hastily-jotted notes and we believe it’s better to take this risk and hop on the saddle blind, but the festival left on Mar. 19 after two days. So, we’re going to highlight some of the films that we felt encapsulated the festival and its ideals.
The first film, “1000 Years” is both a visionary and audio experience. It followed a nude woman slowly, and we really mean slowly, pulling a plastic-y material out of her vagina. At one point in the film, she takes the bunched-up plastic and forces it into her mouth, signifying that the process will happen all over again.
One film, “Bloodlove”, is a BDSM-inclusive short film that includes needle- and blood-play with a woman’s breasts. It made the audience collectively inhale with a sharp wince…and then soothingly exhale just as the film forced another, sharp inhale of painful anticipation.
In “Cocoon,” an example of the intersection between the kinks of total enclosure and bondage, a woman is beautifully covered in a soft fabric, roped, and adorned with bunches of flowers to be used by her domme as a footrest.
“Daddy’s T-Dick” challenged the crowd due to how the film engaged the audience. In the more routine pornographic film, a transman masturbates using a fleshlight with his t-dick while being verbal with it and the viewer. At the end, the camera pans upward, showing his chest, and his face.
Another film, “Cravings,” challenged sexuality during pregnancy stereotypes. The film showed a side of pregnancy that heteronormative society would prefer to avoid head-on: sex. As odd as this may sound—being that sex is, of course, an instrumental part of pregnancy—pregnancy porn is often fetishized from the male perspective, and often in the form of lactation. In contrast, this film completely subverted those stereotypes by focusing on the woman and her needs, not his desires.
A more comedic spin was done on “New American Gothic,” that began as a “daddy and son fucking after waking up”-type gay pornographic film. It ended as just that — but only after outing itself at the end when the mom is making breakfast the same morning. The audience: cool and relaxed.
Closing out the screening was a music video: Peaches’ “Pussy Mask.” The bisexual feminist pop musician’s video, released in March 2021, is an animated whirlwind of vaginas, masked vaginas, and a beloved supreme court justice.
One attendee that Double Sided Media spoke with after a screening was Julia Findon.
She said that she’s experienced three or four HUMP! festivals. Of her first experience, she said “[It] was at the old Bijou, four years ago, and it was shocking and surprising and hilarious and arousing, all at once. HUMP! is going to test your boundaries and your comfort zone, wherever that is, and it’s delightful how each year, I experience that in a different way.”
The entire lineup is featured on the official website and for those who feel they’re up to the challenge, the submission link for entering films can also be found there. This years festival winners were announced on Mar. 14 and include “L’ingrediente Principale” for the best sex category, “Matt’s Dildo” for being the funniest, “Sucky Situation” for best kink, and “Animal Style” which took the overall best in show award.
HUMP! Film Festival is an important piece of cultural art. It is a collection of sexual expression that is diverse not just in it’s racial representation but also in sexual preferences, identities, and body types. No stereotypical Black man being racially objectified for his big block cock, or mostly known in porn as “BBC,” here. No one is shy about their stretch marks, their kinks, or their manifestations either.
In a world with porn in your pocket, it is easy to be swept up and lost in the “standardized” porn industry that favors thin white women, caters primarily to heteronormality, and, more often than not, depicts sex in the most unrealistic, brutish, ground ’n’ pound fashion. Not to say that that isn’t okay entirely or isn’t preferred by some, but it is not the only.
This is a legitimate problem for teens who are physically and emotionally desensitized due to how they perceive what actual sex is like, based off what they find on the internet. Ultimately, this leads to a higher chance of having a poorer sex life going into adulthood, anxiety, a struggle toward emotional connectedness, a narrowed sense of attraction, and, most importantly of all, sexual assault. Even the science-fiction films of the festival felt more realistic than what has been mass-produced for decades.
That is the magic of HUMP!; it exposes you to a variety of ways that sex is enjoyed, it breaks stereotypes, and it challenges the status quo. As states across the nation enact stricter anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQIA+ laws we say this kind of festival is exactly what is needed right now. We’ll never forget this night for everything that it shows. It was an absolute freak show, and we loved every minute of it.