As one of the top genre film festivals in the world, Fantasia International Film Festival has a reputation for introducing audiences to the innovative, the insightful, and even the indecent! This year’s crop of short films invites festival attendees to step out of their comfort zone and take in a parade of sexy shorts. Driven by desire, the sexy shorts of Fantasia 2021 depict sexuality, attraction, and love in all of its glory. Whatever you’re into, there’s a short for you!
FRUIT (written, directed, and animated by Ivan Li) describes itself as an epileptic orgy. This is absolutely true, but FRUIT does dare to do so much more. In a very short 3-minute runtime, FRUIT is a gangbang of the senses. It’s abrasive and assaulting – too colorful, too vulgar, and too chaotic. The short is a journey into the absurd, depicting humanoid fruit in an array of graphic sexual encounters. The onslaught of FRUIT is so overwhelming and happens so quickly that the greater insight of the film is almost lost on the viewer. This self-proclaimed “epileptic orgy” occurs on a film set and on a large screen. Famous faces like Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson traipse through the background, taking in the sexual cacophony. The film’s bizarre characters masturbate to cinema, to commercial culture, and close with a logo slapped on the entire experience. Is FRUIT a biting commentary on consumer culture or just a bizarre acid trip? You decide.
In HOLD ME TIGHT, by writer and director Melanie Robert-Tourneur, sex is taken back to its most animalistic roots. Against the backdrop of some of the most gorgeous animation to come out of Fantasia Fest 2021, two humanoid predators move parallel to each other in the night. The pair repels each other, as apex hunters vying for territory, but attract each other as mates. The short film shows the savagery of their seduction, showing the most brutal sort of romance. In HOLD ME TIGHT, sex is the simple exchange of animal attraction and sensual exploration — but arresting in its beauty and intriguing as a meditation on connection as the most basic human need.
The full spectrum of sex is on fantastical display in PROGRESSIVE TOUCH. In this pornographic ballet, director Michael Portnoy explores sex in all of its unique colors, tones, and rhythms. Quite literally, as each sexual vignette is set to music meant to move each couple through their own unique dance. Depicting real sexual encounters between real couples, PROGRESSIVE TOUCH embraces sex across orientations and attractions and allows each couple to embrace sex as their own unique blend of silly or intense, loving or rough, distinctly masculine or feminine, and entirely to a unique beat shared between the two of them. It’s a fascinating idea and beautifully executed.
PUSS, by Leah Shore, is a hilarious commentary on the moment. If the art of film is about allowing an audience to find common ground, PUSS perfectly understands the assignment. In PUSS, Samantha is a single woman quarantining alone in her New York apartment. She’s lonely, but more importantly, she’s horny AF. Her texts go unread, the food delivery guy is not picking up what she’s putting down, and the vibrator has been working overtime. As her horny isolation makes Samantha more desperate, her solutions become all the more demented. Light, funny, and incredibly relatable, PUSS takes on the pandemic with incredible humor. A highlight of the fest.
So much of sex happens behind closed doors. Which makes sense, but it is also a strange sort of barrier when you consider the role sex plays in forming our identities and revealing our true selves. THE BOOTH by Michael Arcos offers us a peek behind the closed doors of patrons that frequent adult video arcades. People of all walks of life step into the private, sensual spaces of these adult viewing booths and have the unique experience of personal sexual exploration that sidles right up to the threshold of a communal experience. In THE BOOTH, the adult video arcade is transformed into a space of growth and discovery. Considered by many to be a bygone relic, THE BOOTH makes the case for sexual spaces as anchors of identity and community. Always interesting and never sleazy, THE BOOTH is an honest appraisal of the refuge we all find in sexual expression and the humanity of these spaces.
Fantasia International Film Festival will run from August 5 to August 25, 2021. In-person and remote viewing options are available for the aforementioned titles.