Fantastic Fest: 'The Life and Death of a Porno Gang'

Sex and death make a bloody mess in Serbia

Part of the remit of Fantastic Fest is to shock: And it's hard to imagine that anything this year will push more buttons than Serbia's The Life and Death of A Porno Gang.



Porno Gang treads very similar ground to A Serbian Film, the extreme shocker that stretched even the hardest of genre fans to breaking point at this year's SXSW. Both deal with the traumatic melding of sex and death in the post-civil war Balkans, as a bunch of sexual libertines get themselves caught up in the strange and fetid world of snuff cinema. That said, Porno Gang is far less gruesome than Serbian Film. That also being said, that's rather like describing a blast furnace as cooler than the surface of the sun.

Failed film school graduate Marko (Mihajlo Jovanovic) is stuck making low-budget porn for the domestic market, yet he has nebulous dreams of creating some new artistry. To this end, he assembles his own band of Merry Pranksters to perform the world's first touring sexual cabaret before rural audiences. Of course, the fact that he's on the run from his old producer and some corrupt Belgrade police officers for blowing all his budget on an unwatchable psycho-sci-fi-sex-drama has nothing to do with his decision to skip town.

Jovanovic gives Marko an easy, sleazy charm that makes him a plausible ringleader to his clueless, strung-out acolytes. Enabled by failed bit-part actress Una (Ana Acimovic in a understated role as the film's bent moral compass) he's the one that drags them into the darkest horrors. But when the money's this good, and the victims are willing, then who are they to say no?

This is If … to A Serbian Film's Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Even for some of its deeply NSFW scenes (you can see the much more explicit trailer here but seriously, you have been warned), the driving force is a cultural examination of what the war did to Serbia and what they did to themselves. The nation's internal contradictions – stoicism balanced against unruly violence, a peasant nation with a libertine's bohemian tastes – are on full display.

The Life and Death of a Porno Gang screens on Friday, Sept. 24 at 11:50pm and Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 3.35pm at the Alamo South Lamar with Barcelona Venecia.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Fantastic Fest, Fantastic Fest 2010, A Serbian Film, The Life and Death of a Porno Gang

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