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Sundance 2013: James Franco explains how porn imitates art [Video]

January 23, 2013|By Steven Zeitchik

PARK CITY, UTAH -- James Franco is never shy about pushing a few buttons with his filmmaking, and at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, he has his thumb exactly where you’d expect.

Franco is involved with two films, the meta-documentary “Interior. Leather. Bar,” a story about William Friedkin’s explicit 1980 film “Cruisin’ that he directed, and “Kink,” a nonfiction look at a San Francisco bondage site of the same name that Franco produced.

In an interview with Franco and “Kink” director Christina Voros, the pair explained they wanted to make "Kink" to show a side of the porn process few might expect.

FULL COVERAGE: Sundance Film Festival 2013

“On screen what was happening within the video was very intense … but off-screen behind the camera it was completely different,” Franco said in the interview, which you can view below. “I watch porn but even I had preconceptions about what a porn studio would look like. You just think it’s a sleazy place. It didn’t feel like that there at all.”

Franco said that, while few would ascribe the same level of artistic ambition to porn producers, he didn’t find the shooting process at Kink all that different from his experiences with mainstream filmmakers.

“They are looking for ways, just as we are when we make a fictional feature film, to be innovative … to find the next level,” he said of Kink filmmakers. “There are a lot of videos they do that are not that far from the things that certain performance artists have done,” adding, “It’s just next to art — it’s just that their frame is one of pornography.”

Added Voros: “They’re all striving for a certain kind of authenticity.”

PHOTOS: Sundance 2013: Portraits by The Times

Sex has been much on the mind of filmmakers at Sundance, with a raft of movies tackling taboo subject matter and relationships. Franco and Voros believe that the crop of films is breaking an important silence.

“People love to talk about sex. We're just not allowed to," Voros said. "I think if films can come out that allow people to have these conversations that they’re not supposed to have then all the better."

“As it’s accepted more and more, the ways that it can be used can be more sophisticated,” Franco said. “ It won’t just be a minimal kind of thing in a film that’s just a punctuation. It’s actually a scene.”

As he watched “Kink” with an audience, Franco acknowledged it might feel intense for the crowd. But then he realized the film was accomplishing exactly the goal he set out to achieve.

“Everybody likes to talk about [sex], but when you put it on film it’s somehow different,” Franco said. “I was thinking at that moment [of the premiere]: ‘All the Fifty Shades of Grey’ readers? This is what you’re reading about! This is it, so don’t be offended, because this is the real thing.' ”

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Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

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