SXSW Film

Daily reviews and interviews

SXSW Film

Heaven Hell

SX Global
D: David Calek

A portrait of the BDSM community in the Czech Republic, Heaven Hell seeks to demystify the dark erotic arts, showcasing its subjects sexual proclivities – dominating, being dominated, or, rather memorably, dressing like a horse and running an obstacle course – as part of their larger, more mundane existence. It provides ample context in how its varied subjects shaped their sexual identities, often in childhood: One young programmer-by-day, submissive-by-night shares early fantasies of punishment, while the pony-play fetishist, as a kid, had a fascination with (no joke) Dick Francis racehorse mysteries. However, the doc's tonal shifts are abrupt: Scenes of a slave's torture and orgasmic release are alternately titillating and harrowing, while others, like planning how the young submissive will be hoisted by hooks, drag on (without unpacking the gender dynamics of the male group planning the female's presentation). It seems director Calek, in these pedestrian segments, is trying to hint at the normalcy and familial bond engendered in this underworld. But who thought this stuff could be boring?


Saturday, March 19, 9pm, Alamo Ritz 2

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