After the success of the first Petra Joy Awards in 2009, it took me some time to run this short film competition for new female erotic filmmakers again. I lost my previous sponsor and was not able to find another one. Various companies offered to donate some goods in exchange for their branding plastered all over the awards, but no one was willing to donate the prize money.
Because this award is so important to me I did not want to give up. So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and to save up the prize money for the winning films of the new competition over a couple of years. I remembered how in 2004 my life changed completely when Emma, a woman I met on an erotic photo shoot commission, decided to pay for the postproduction of Sexual Sushi so it could finally be released. Without Emma’s help maybe Sexual Sushi would have never been published and I might not have had the guts or finance to ever shoot another erotic film. Emma’s direct action of investing some money into me changed my life forever. I will be eternally grateful to her and felt the wish to give to other women what she gave to me. Now I want to inspire other women to make their dreams come true, express their fantasies and believe in themselves.
The results of this short film competition under the topic of “Female Fantasies” are fantastic: No subject is taboo. Yes, some women enjoy paying a man for sex! Yes, some women enjoy being dominated in a consensual SM scenario! Yes, many women would love to hang out in the dark room of a gay club to watch the men get it on. Yes, most of us like to be licked by a lover with a skilled tongue (illustrated beautifully in the animation Naked Love by Sara Koppel). Our sexuality is as multi-coloured as a rainbow.
The positive reactions I got from the winners of this year’s awards have been overwhelming. All of the women felt honoured to win and it meant the world to them to have their work recognised and to be encouraged to continue their creative journey.
Morgana, who won the first prize for her gutsy autobiographic film “Duty Bound” in which she shows us how she left a loveless marriage behind and made her fantasies come true, wrote to me:
“When I first read your website and PJ Awards site, I had this immediate sense, that you were my kindred spirit, urging me to unshackle my past and giving me permission to release this voice within me, that has been just below the surface my entire life, screaming to be heard. Duty Bound was conceived. Winning the PJ Award and the most incredible response to the film has left me in surreal state. With this win, I hope to meet other like-minded, non-judgmental people that believe and positively engage with and promote women and their sexuality.”
To receive an email like that touches me deeply. How wonderful that my short film competition was the catalyst for Morgana to shoot her film. Even better that the first prize has encouraged her to shoot more films in the future. This makes me happy. Much happier than if I had spent the money I had saved up on myself rather than donated it as prize money for the awards. Sometimes to give really means to receive!
Morgana closed her mail to me with the following lines:
“I can feel myself wanting to get up and dance, as I hear, Annie Lennox & Aretha Franklin sing:
Sisters are doing it for themselves,
Standing on their own two feet,
And ringing on their own bells…”
I am singing along to this – ever since the eighties this is one of the sisterhood anthems I love because it celebrates female independence as well as friendships between women. And it feels like through this year’s award new friendships and creative partnerships are blossoming.
It was a pleasure to see that two of the winning films, Corpuscle (by: Exotica Loom) and Taken (by: Gala Vanting and Aven Frey who have now set up sensatefilms.com) were created by two women working together as a team. Sisters are not just doing it, but doing it together… More and more creative partnerships in expressing female sexuality on film are formed all over the world and I think this is wonderful. We prove the sexist stereotypes about female competitiveness wrong.
Another trend in female erotic filmmaking seems to be that indeed it is hot hot hot down under: This year’s first prize, Duty Bound, as well as the runner up Taken, have been produced in Australia. The legal restrictions on producing and distributing porn in Australia seem to have the opposite effect of what the government intended: female-made porn seems to be thriving right now. There is an ever-growing community who shoot porn and especially Melbourne seems a hotspot for alternative erotica. Oz is of course the country that brought us great VOD sites like beautiful agony and many women who previously performed on these sites have now taken the camera into their own hands to shoot films about sex.
Already the winning filmmakers are hooking up, planning to shoot new films together and you never know, I might be on my way to sunny Melbourne next year too to co-operate with Gala, Aven and Morgana. How wonderful that we are connected across continents and generations. Together we grow. Together we can change the world. Word by word. Image by image.
You can read more about the filmmakers and see clips from the awarded films here.