It’s quite a surprise that a film titled Pinochet Porn depicts a tender portrait of friendship. Granted, Ellen Cantor’s final film buries that theme under a shocking mélange of spank-heavy sex scenes, depressed clowns, descriptions of rape and torture over vintage Pepsi ads and disturbing archival footage of the Pinochet dictatorship, Hitler and September 11th. But looking beyond its violent and erotic imagery, the film is a celebration of a close-knit avant-garde community.
This became clear at the film’s premiere at MoMA on Monday night, part of the museum’s Modern Mondays film program. Playing to a sold-out theater, the screening also featured a post-film discussion between the Museum’s Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art Stuart Comer, Participant Inc.’s founding director Lia Gangitano, who appears in the film, and filmmaker John Brattin, who acted as Director of Photography. While this is common with MoMA’s screenings, it seemed particularly important on Monday. Firsthand accounts of the film’s production and posthumous completion, provided here by Gangitano and Brattin, seem irrevocably intertwined with any analysis or enjoyment of the film itself.