Fuck for Forest - Michał Marczak
A documentary about a nonprofit environmental organisation whose members make pornographic material or have sex in public to raise money for good causes. In the film, noble ideas and reality meet.
Danny, a young Norwegian, sets out on a search for likeminded people. He despises big corporations and doesn’t want to be part of the rat race. Raised in a secure environment, surrounded by luxury, he doesn’t want to take any responsibilities. In Berlin he comes across Fuck For Forest (FFF), a controversial 1,300 member organisation of activists.
Founded in Norway in 2004 by Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen, the nonprofit raises money for rescuing the world's rainforests and indigenous communities by selling amateur pornography on the Internet. People featured in their homemade videos are met at random and sympathise with the cause, just as Danny, Marczak's protagonist. For $15 a month, the FFF website grants access to their photographs and videos.
"Two years ago I read a short article about Fuck For Forest, I came home, bought a monthly subscription and started watching their videos", the documentary’s director, Michał Marczak, told culture.pl. "Some of them weren’t easy on the eyes – shot with cheap cameras, badly lit, not very aesthetic. But there was something interesting in them, every now and then, the truth came out". In an interview with the website Portal Filmowy, he said "I asked myself whether the members were doing it mostly for the forests, to be in front of the camera or to be a part of the group. In their films you can see that their big house is some kind of strange fairy-tale-like place […] when I met the members I was asking myself why they did it and why they wanted to save the Amazon […] There are no easy answers and new questions came up all the time [...]I wanted to tell a story about people who are trying to save themselves, but who might not even be capable of doing that”.
Marczak’s narrative-driven film revolves loosely around the group's environmental projects, focusing on sexuality, contemporary lifestyles, western morals and cultural variants in human perception. It is full of scandalous images stripped of aesthetics and romanticism. Danny feels he is living the dream: His carnal needs are met, he has a cause and is free from bourgeois conventions. In a piece for culture.pl, Bartek Staszczyszyn writes about the shocking shots as backdrop to the director’s commentary about hypocritical, lost and immature protagonists mindlessly following their desires and lusts. Running away from reality, they want at all costs to give their behaviour deeper meaning. The paradox is rebelling against consumerism while depending on the sale of sex, and the group Fuck for Forest is a product of our times.
Marczak’s protagonists follow paths laid out by hippies in the 1970s: flower children making love, wanting to save the planet and showing rebellion through their clothes. They talk about being one with nature, about the rotten West and consumerism. For the critic Staszczyszyn, Marczak portrays the disintegration of their dreams of escaping reality with empathy. The director, in a culture.pl interview says "We became friends with the protagonists although we are completely different […] Together with them we travel to the Amazonian jungle. The members of FFF want to help the indigenous people to buy the land they have inhabited for centuries so that it doesn’t end up in the hands of multinational corporations".
With 420,000 euro raised, Fuck for Forest travels to the Amazon to buy the land. The indigenous people represent a strong heritage, traditions and a connection with nature for the FFF members. However, they face their own identity problems. "At the end of our journey we met a grandfather who lives in accordance with old shaman traditions, a father who is half Christian because of his child who was converted by a missionary. They themselves are not sure what to revere – what was valid in the past, or what is valid now. A the same time they feel used by the West and love it, they admire the white man and fear him.” They are aware of both losses and benefits of their continent's industrialisation. They chase FFF away, and the would-be activists split up, their ideals crushed by painful realities.
Michał Marczak (born 1982) finished the documentary programme at the the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing in 2007, after studying philosophy and photography in Warsaw and Poznań. He then studied at the Vancouver Film School in Canada from 1999 to 2001. His medium-length documentary Koniec Rosji / At the Edge of Russia was nominated for the Prix Europa in Berlin and awarded at festivals in Perm in Russia Nyon in Switzerland, Toronto, Zagreb and New York. It tells the story of Alexei, a 19-year-old recruit doing military service on the northern Russian frontier. Alexei and five fellow soldiers fulfill their duty in a snow-covered no-man's land hundreds of miles from the nearest human settlement. The plot reveals their personal stories and secrets that caused them to retreat from the real world.
Fuck For Forest is Marczak’s feature-length debut. The film is a Polish-German production and opens in Polish cinemas on the 23rd of November 2012. In 2013 It had its North American premiere at the 2013 edition of the SXSW Festival and further European release is also planned for 2013.
- Fuck For Forest, Poland 2012. Director: Michał Marczak, Script: Michał Marczak, Łukasz Grudziński, Cinematography: Michał Marczak, Sound: Radosław Ochnio, Editing: Dorota Wardęszkiewicz, Producer: Pokromski Studio, Co-production: Kinomaton, Distribution: Against Gravity.
Sources: Based on the article by Bartosz Staszczyszyn for culture.pl
Editor: Marta JazowskaMarta Jazowska