Entertainment Hollywood 05 Mar 2021 Berlinale: A teacher ...

Berlinale: A teacher, a porn clip and the hypocrisy of a nation

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SUPARNA SHARMA
Published Mar 5, 2021, 9:28 pm IST
Updated Mar 5, 2021, 9:48 pm IST
Radu Jude’s 'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn', won the Golden Bear award for Best Film at the 71st International Film Festival of Berlin
Radu Jude’s film - Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
 Radu Jude’s film - Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

New Delhi: Romanian writer-director Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn opens with a naughty, kinky pornographic scene. Emi (Katia Pascariu), a school teacher, is having sex with her husband and they are recording the proceedings for a bit of extra thrill.

But somehow the sex tape leaks and is soon making the rounds of giggly WhatsApp groups of her students and their parents. Some download it, purportedly as evidence to beat Emi with. The fact that the sex is consensual, between a husband and wife is irrelevant. There is outrage, and it's mostly about how could a middle-aged, married woman be so raunchy.

 

Radu Jude’s film, which uses this porn clip and the subsequent "trial" of Emi in the school’s yard to draw circles around a society's hypocrisy, won the Golden Bear award for Best Film at the 71st International Film Festival of Berlin on Friday.

The film is split in three parts. In the first, Loony Porn walks with Emi as she visits her school principal, goes to a book store and a pharmacy. Shot during the Coronavirus pandemic, this segment has visuals of a city all masked up and wary of social interactions. But it's also a city busy consuming, enraging, eradicating the past.

 

We watch arguments and fights in a supermarket, with owners of big cars who block the sidewalk as a matter of their right. Each clash is an assertion of the entitlement of the rich and marginalisation of others.

The film’s second part is polyphonic and here, through commentary, archival footage, statistics, words, nudes in newspapers, building rising and in ruins, Loony Porn tells the story of Romania — about its role in the Holocaust, its attitude to Jews, Romas, love for dictators, attitude to sex and children. It also tells us that in Romania, 6 out of 10 kids are subjected to family violence.

 

This fact hovers over the film's last segment -- the meeting called by the school principal and parents to interrogate and then vote on Emi’s future. It is kicked off by a parent who insists on playing the sex clip for the benefit of all those gathered.

This scene, framed like an inquisition — the "accused" is in the middle, flanked by a judge who will rule based on the mood of the people and the enforcer of morality — is both dark and funny. Though allegations, tangential discussions, innuendoes, inappropriate remarks, shrill sanctimony and, finally, the judgment, Loony Porn lays bare a nation that has revised its history to legitimise its past and current criminal acts and feels emboldened to air its prejudice, bigotry and misplaced rage. Because many speak in the same tongue, collective hypocrisy gets elevated to a sanctimonious, narcissistic chorus.  

 

What's striking is how familiar it all feels. This searing portrait of a nation and its people could well be a day in the life of India.

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