One of the films making the film festival circuit in 2006 was Shortbus. Written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell, Shortbus is a multi-faceted indie feature with an ensemble cast. Vancouver-born, Sook-Yin Lee, heads up an array of characters, each struggling with personal demons.
John Cameron Mitchell’s SHORTBUS explores the lives of several emotionally challenged characters as they navigate the comic and tragic intersections between love and sex in and around a modern-day underground salon. A sex therapist who has never had an orgasm, a dominatrix who is unable to connect, a gay couple who are deciding whether to open up their relationship, and the people who weave in and out of their lives, all converge on a weekly gathering called Shortbus: a mad nexus of art, music, politics and polysexual carnality. Set in a post-9/11, Bush-exhausted New York City, SHORTBUS tells its story with sexual frankness, suggesting new ways to reconcile questions of the mind, pleasures of the flesh and imperatives of the heart.As I was saying, film festival fare makes you think. If you don't pay attention through the whole film, you'll miss important aspects of the story and stand a chance of losing the characters.
Shortbus moves through all emotions. You'll laugh, become sympathetic, get momentarily angry and perhaps even feel despair. And through it all is great music. (Supposedly there is a soundtrack available out there.)
Sex, and I mean very graphic sex, is a part of the film. It isn't the story but it is used to support the theme and the characters. In short, it's the reality that is never displayed in Hollywood productions.
Did I say graphic sex? Oh yeah. Graphic straight and gay sex. If you don't think you can handle it, don't go. And, if you go prepared to see a porn movie, again, give it a miss. The sex in this movie keeps your mind on the character; not the acts in which they engage nor the things they observe.
Having said all that, Shortbus even tested my limits a bit. Indie films are supposed to do that. But this one is strong on the physical and even stronger on the emotional.
You don't get that from Hollywood.
SHORTBUS won the Audience Award at the Athens International Film Festival; Best Art Direction and Best Screenplay at the Gijon International Film Festival; the Producers Award at the prestigious Film Independent Spirit Awards and was nominated for Best Ensemble Cast at the Gotham Film Festival. It was screened at the Caanes Film Festival as an "Out-of-Competition Feature Film" entry and received critical acclaim.