Angie Rowntree Brown


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Last Wednesday, adult filmmaker Angie Rowntree was invited to Brown University to present her new short film “Alla Prima,” and to discuss the varieties of women’s porn, art porn and ethical pornography with an audience of Ivy League students.

The Brown students had seen Rowntree’s latest production, “Alla Prima,” ahead of time. During the talk, Rowntree showed them “Gone” and the trailer for “Invictus” trailer, her entry into the Florence international Film Festival.

All these productions can be found on Sssh.com, the website she curates, devoted to “ethically produced, sex-positive indie adult cinema.”

Brown University’s Corliss-Brackett House is a Gilded Age architectural landmark, formerly owned by legendary Hollywood producer, screenwriter and Billy Wilder collaborator Charles Brackett. The connection to the “Sunset Boulevard” screenwriter is quite fitting as a setting for Rowntree’s talk—Brackett’s Golden Era scripts include porn-ready titles such as “Pointed Heels,” “Secrets of a Secretary,” “The Mating Season,” “The Model and the Marriage Broker,” “Teenage Rebel,” and, perhaps most suitable of all, 1935’s “College Scandal.”

The Corliss-Brackett House is now shared by Brown University’s departments of Economics and Philosophy. An elite audience of undergraduates, grad students and professors listened enraptured as Rowntree offered a survey of the current landscape of adult movies, especially as it concerns the category known as “Porn for Women.”

Filmmaker Angie Rowntree speaking at Brown University.

“There is such a misconception about the term ‘Porn for Women,’” Rowntree told the seminar. “I feel when people hear it they think soft lighting, candles, romantic music — and of course it can be [that], but it can also represent so much more, like hardcore explicit sex. The term also puts women in a box and it’s one I don’t particularly care for. To me, it’s a marker, a road sign if you will, that lets people know I’m doing something different.”

The “Porn for Women” label often receives mainstream press coverage, thanks to the success of filmmakers as diverse as Erika Lust, Kay Brandt and Rowntree herself.

The director-producer-screenwriter offered the Brown students a more nuanced reading. “It’s empowering to depict women in charge of their own bodies and desires,” said Rowntree. “There is a need for female-driven stories, to balance the largely male-oriented fantasies that we currently see. There is a need for movies presented from a female perspective with an emphasis on female pleasure. It empowers us. It humanizes us. It tells our stories.”

Conscious that many in the audience are members of “the Tube Generation,” post-millennials who have grown up with the notion that porn is “free” and “universally available,” Rowntree encouraged the crowd to see the value of films like her “Alla Prima,” and to support the kind of filmmaking they hope to see with their wallets.

“I’m just offering an alternative,” she explained. “So much [of the commercially available porn that is promoted on tube sites] is all about the guy — what looks good to him, what feels good to him — and the woman is just kinda there as a function of his pleasure. To me, that’s just not a recipe for good sex, and I want to depict my idea of good sex, which would be mutual pleasure.”

alla prima

Ava Mir-Ausziehen in Angie Rowntree’s “Alla Prima.”

Wet on Wet

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Sssh.com’s. “We are the longest running site geared towards women on the web,” Rowntree told the crowd. She described the fantasies and scenarios submitted by the mostly female members to the site as a comprehensive survey of the varieties of women’s erotic imagination. “Twenty years of historical data of women’s desires. Twenty years of crowdsourced fantasies that have been submitted and turned first into stories with photos, and then movies.”

“Alla Prima” is one of those stories. A member suggested the prompt “making love on a canvas” and Rowntree decided to take it a little further. “I felt using color to represent desire [would make for a] unique visual representation of passion and sex,” she explained.

The movie opens in black and white. It shows a couple stretching a canvas that the audience cannot see. As they hold it up, the women flashes back to its messy, arousing genesis. “As her passion grows, color slowly returns to the frame, starting with the blue streak on her body,” said Rowntree.

The female lead is played by Ava Mir-Ausziehen, a 10-year veteran of Sssh.com productions. Male lead Malcolm Lovejoy was scouted by Mir-Ausziehen at the Toronto International Porn Film Festival. “I thought it was a fantastic match and I loved their energy together,” said Rowntree. “Just the right amount of playfulness and passion.”

alla prima 3

Malcolm Lovejoy in Angie Rowntree’s “Alla Prima.”

The term “alla prima” refers to an art technique also known as “au premier coup” (“on the first attempt”). The English term for the technique, which involves the artist applying fresh paint over paint that has not yet dried, is “wet-on-wet.”

“Watch as the colors of a young couple come to life with every sensual touch,” reads Sssh.com’s description of “Alla Prima.” “Every kiss. Every sigh of satisfaction. With no idea of what they’re creating, the two begin to make love on a blank canvas and slowly immerse themselves into the creation of something elevated by their pleasure in one another.”

Rowntree doesn’t think people should have to justify depicting sex in art and entertainment. For the director sex is “a huge part of life,” and she remains puzzled as to why “we have this weird love/hate relationship with explicit depictions of it.”

Through her work, as the filmmaker showed the appreciative Ivy League audience last week, Rowntree has tried to challenge the patronizing myth that all women have a fundamental bias against watching sex on film.

“Twenty years ago, someone told me, at an industry trade show, that there was no market for women,” she revealed. “Because women were not visual, nor did they enjoy porn, and they would never pay for it. They were wrong.”



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By XBIZ

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