Lisa Vandever helped create Cinekink, which is also known as “The Kinky Film Festival.” Now in its eleventh season, Vandever oversees and curates the organization’s annual event and touring season. This season, Cinekink is kickstarting a campaign to bring the festival to even more sexy cities. Will you be on the list?
Who are you and what were you doing before CineKink?
I’m the co-founder and director of CineKink. Previously, I worked in development (finding screenplays and trying to make them into movies) for a couple of NYC independent film companies. And before that, I was a program director for a public television station back in Oregon, where I’m from.
How did Cinekink come to fruition?
I was toiling, fairly fruitlessly, in independent film development, and at the same time I was starting to explore some “alternative sexuality” groups in NYC, where I’d recently relocated. I ended up co-producing a similar film festival for TES and found it an exhilarating combination of passions – sex and film. When the name, “CineKink,” popped into my head, I pretty much ran with it. It’s been pretty much my main focus for over a decade now.
What is CineKink and what is it’s mission?
CineKink is “the kinky film festival” and our mission is to celebrate and explore a wide range of sexuality. We do, however, take a very broad definition of “kinky,” basically seeing it as anything outside of the mainstream stance – one man, one woman, missionary forever and ever.
How many cities is CineKink currently playing in?
It varies a little from year to year, but after the main festival in New York, we take some of the best programming from that and tour around the country. Cities have included Portland (my hometown), Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vegas Chicago, Austin and DC. Last year we made it back to Berlin, and we even finally cracked Australia.
What’s the most memorable film you’ve ever run at CineKink?
A couple of years back we showed a Belgian film, ‘SM Judge,’ which was based on a true story about a couple whose lives are completely altered – for good and bad – by their discovery of BDSM. It’s an incredibly moving film, beautifully acted and produced, with a very rare sympathetic portrayal.
Anything you wish you could unsee?
My personal “squick” is piercing and needle play, and I always get a little light-head screening those. But I think the most mind-searing was a performance piece involving a woman naked in a tank of eels, with them swimming against her, darting between her legs. Yeesh!
Have you caught people having sex in the theater? If so, do you let it slide?
From the back of the theater you can look out and see people at some pretty contorted angles, but we pretty much let that slide. We do crack down on cell phone use, though, outside of the back row “Twit Zone.”
What have you learned about your sexuality after running CineKink?
Overall, I’ve learned to keep an open mind about my desires. Not too much longer before CineKink, I didn’t even have a real inkling that I might be into BDSM, or allow myself to find women attractive. Once I gave myself permission to consider new possibilities, I’ve found so many new sources of pleasure.
What would you like to see, what type of film submission, that hasn’t been shown before?
I think there’s still room for a feature film exploring non-monogamy, be the focus relational or more recreational, where the characters are sympathetic and the outcome is a positive one. That is tough, though, since “drama” largely depends on conflict to drive it and be interesting.
What do you hope people take away from CineKink?
I guess I’d hope that people would take away pretty much what I did, to be open to considering desires, both one’s own and others’. Not necessarily to act upon them, but to accept and regard them as being within the range of wonderful possibilities.