Hump! Film Festival returns to Pittsburgh | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Hump! Film Festival returns to Pittsburgh

Short amateur films allow people to be porn stars for a night

Hump! Film Festival returns to Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of HUMP!

The Hump! Film Festival is back to celebrate sexuality in all of its forms. Started in 2005 by Dan Savage, the editorial director of Seattle’s alt-weekly The Stranger and nationally syndicated sex columnist, this festival shows porn that falls outside of the heteronormative, vanilla status quo (but there is some of that, too!). There are only three rules for submissions: no poop, no animals and no minors can be included. And films must be made by amateurs — no professionals allowed. 

Anyone up for the task can submit films that run up to five minutes. The festival values privacy for its talent; it promises that if your film is chosen, you get to be a “porn star for a night,” without worrying that your video will be available outside the festival. (Thus, security at screenings is taken very seriously, and cell phones are prohibited.) Hump! is also dedicated to showing a range of genders, sexualities, ages, bodies and acts, all in service of upholding sex positivity. 

The selected films compete to win the accolades of “best humor,” “best sex,” “best kink,” “best in show” and “best jury” awards.  Extra credit is given for filmmakers who include elements from a list of three “add-ins.” Those change annually, and 2018’s list is: Justin Trudeau, jumper cables and Jenga. Runners-up also get a nod. 

This year, the touring festival features 21 films that range in length from 30 seconds to five minutes. Many are humorous, featuring intimacy enhanced by an eggplant, or a few people with penises shaking them in the breeze. Some are thigh-clenchers that thrill in the way you might expect with porn. Others are heartwarming scenes of people giggling and caressing their partner/partners. Also this year, some films use the beauty of sex to talk about assault, loneliness and race in ways that feel familiar and private. Each short shows some side of the complexity of intimacy, and even if every film doesn’t appeal to every viewer, the humanity still shines through.

Settings range from the privacy of a couple’s bedroom to alleyways and forests filled with sex-crazed nymph-like creatures. A flair for the dramatic extends to costuming and props, with a dildo-mounted drone whizzing past cityscapes and nods to ride-hailing services. Orgies, twosomes and vulvas that play their own kind of music are some more of what viewers can look forward to.