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Dan Savage's amateur-porn film festival depicts erotica "with humor and compassion" 

"Growing up, I never thought it'd be my job to sit there and watch porn for two days."

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Each year, the submissions to the Hump! Film Festival reflect some inexplicable new trend.

"One year, we got half-a-dozen James Bond parodies, even though there wasn't a big Bond movie in the theaters and we never suggested we wanted to see that," says Dan Savage, founder and curator of the homemade-pornography festival. "A couple years ago, we got five different submissions that featured lesbians and fruit."

Savage — also author of the advice column Savage Love, editorial director of Seattle's The Stranger newspaper and co-founder of the It Gets Better Project — says shifting through each year's Hump! entries eats up about a weekend of his busy schedule. "Growing up, I never thought it'd be my job to sit there and watch porn for two days. I've watched a lot of cunnilingus but — oh well, we all have our crosses to bear."

The festival, which has been held in Portland and Seattle since 2005, is in the midst of its inaugural nationwide tour, screening a best-of compilation.

Though the five-minute films capture a wide variety of unfeigned sex acts, that's about all the movies have in common with the smut on YouPorn or xHamster. The program is more like a collection of indie short films — comedies, dramas, thrillers and, in one case, a Jackass-like stunt — that all happen to feature full-frontal nudity and/or graphic sex. Hump! is heavy on humor; there's a foray into pie-fetish porn and a depiction of a gay time-travel paradox that is titled, of course, "Go Fuck Yourself."

Hump! features "combine erotica with humor and compassion in a way that's oddly absent from commercial porn," says Savage. "That's because most Hump! performers are friends and lovers who get together, make something sexy and have a good time, and then want to share that."

The festival is self-regenerating, inspiring attendees to make a film for next year's fest.

An anonymous, Portland-based filmmaker — we'll call him "Sean" — says he and his friends were moved to create a submission after seeing a few Hump! festivals. "We talked about it for a while," says Sean. "I finally put out a message saying, ‘OK, next year's deadline is coming up. Who's really in?'"

More difficult than finding people to boff on camera was concocting a plot that could be contained within the festival's five-minute time limit. "Only two things could happen," says Sean. "One of [the performers] was a [Dungeons and Dragons] player and suggested that. I said, ‘OK, D&D and then orgy. We got it!'"

The resulting film, called simply D&D Orgy, is a part of the touring slate and depicts a night of table-top gaming that escalates in intensity until the players are rolling around naked on the floor. Sean calls it "a remarkable symbol of our friendship."

Essential to Hump! is the anonymity of filmmakers and performers. To ensure that everyone involved "can be a porn star in that theater that weekend and not for life on the Internet," says Savage, all hard copies of the films are destroyed after the festival, along with the associated paperwork.

This practice left Savage and company scrambling to compile the touring best-of show. Through the Pacific Northwest indie film scene, organizers put out a request for a few favorites to resubmit; ultimately, they secured most of the films they wanted.

Hump! exposes viewers to an expansive range of sexuality in an era when the Internet feeds each individual with their given niche, says Savage. He points to "Lauren Likes Candy," a woman-on-woman S&M scene voted best film by the audience in 2007. "Most of the audience was not lesbian S&M-ers, but they responded to the passion and intensity of that film and how much both women were enjoying it," Savage says. "You have straight people cheering for the gay porn, gay people cheering for the straight porn and kinky people cheering for the vanilla porn, and you have first-gender people cheering to trans porn. That, I think, is wonderful and what Hump! is all about."

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