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9to5 Movie Review


I attended the European premiere of the independent documentary 9to5: Days in Porn, screened as part of London's Raindance Film Festival.


I know many of us have been eagerly awaiting the chance to watch this documentary, as it is rare a piece of film comes along which appears to provide an accurate reflection of the mainstream porn industry. And indeed, that is exactly what this film does, for better or for worse.


The film provokes fascination, revulsion, laugher, vague arousal, and shock—which is exactly the mixture of reactions I experience when watching mainstream porn. Revulsion most of all.


The German director, Jens Hoffmann, spent a year among his subjects building trust before ever rolling a camera, and it shows in their clear comfort around the documentary crew. True, these are professional performers, but they offer a completely relaxed, intimate view into their personal as well as professional lives.


I attended the film festival with someone who has worked in the industry for 15 years, running her own fetish business. Her view of the film was that it was a negative portrayal of the industry. She was particularly disturbed by the repeated overhead shots of the freeway, which were spliced throughout the film—the implication, in her eyes, being that porn is “a road to nowhere.”


I meanwhile, came away from the film filled with hope and excitement. Maybe it’s because I spend my time researching trends and women’s activity in the industry, but the decline in product quality and overall disrepair of the industry screams opportunity to me. The film did not depict niches or fringe movements, but as readers of this blog are well aware, many women are taking advantage of this opportunity and setting up their own shop, taking control of their image, and slowly changing the industry as we know it.


Sasha Grey—a central character in the film—is the best example of this, at least on screen. No one doubts her commitment and passion for what she does. Sure, it’s extreme sex, and she relishes acts which make many of our stomachs turn, but it’s clear that this is her thing.


My favorite moment is when a bigtime porn director is interviewed about Sasha. To paraphrase his clearly pre-rehearsed soundbite:


“I’ve never worked with Sasha, but she is a huge talent. It is clear she is going to go far in this industry and become very successful.” Long pause, and then, as though he couldn’t hold it in: “…she’s fucking crazy!”


Love it.


I hope the film gets picked up by some larger distributors. It was completely self-funded, since no one with money seems to want to touch anything with "porn" in the title. Nonetheless, it terms of production values and music, it’s very well done. And as the most accurate depiction of the porn industry I’ve ever seen on film, I’m curious to see what other reactions to it are.


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I saw the movie as well, and it struck me forcefully that what men often take as the ultimate fantasy-life is just...a 9-to-5 job, with typical working issues like other jobs. having seen behind the curtain so definitively, I'll never look at porn the same way again. What also hit me was the performers trying to manitain some shred of normal humanity in such a de-humanising business.

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