The on-again, off-again status of the Okanagan Film Festival can only be a direct result of the subversive documentary “Donkey Love,” a festival film about the father-son tradition of bestiality in Colombia.
Most would have no problems with the other films in the festival’s lineup; it’s the disturbing nature of Donkey Love that enrages people.
The film’s host and director, Daryl Stoneage, purports to humourously document the apparent long-standing tradition of sex with donkeys in the South American nation.
But it’s a documentary that nobody seems to have asked for. Documentaries tend to focus on stories of general human interest. Donkey Love is a film that can only appeal to a very small minority and doesn’t seem appropriate for the Okanagan Film Festival, or any other festival.
Since bestiality is still illegal, perhaps to the dismay of some sexual liberationists, it’s difficult to see how the general population would even consider watching it.
The film producers are likely aware of this, and it would make sense for them to develop a public relations/promotional strategy that would attempt to circumvent people’s defences.
The film seems to have been snuck in through the back door, becoming a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. And when it explodes, the shrapnel catches the film festival, which now has no home this year.
It also exploded on a population that was not prepared to tolerate the normalization of illegal sexual acts and abuse of animals.
This year, the management of OFF and the intentions of venue providers raise some important questions. Were venues promised to OFF and then cancelled when the public became aware of the donkey film, or did festival director Jeremy Heynen callously promote the festival with unconfirmed screening dates and locations? Is it a coincidence that the festival is facing cancellation for the first time the same year Donkey Love is slated to debut?
In any case, the film has gained some publicity that it might not have otherwise.
So, just what are the filmmakers trying to accomplish with a film that appeals to so few?
Does the film tend to normalize the idea of sex with animals? It is said that one of the greatest forms of persuasion is through humour, and Donkey Love certainly appears to make light of and superficially ridicule bestiality. In this sense, it is a subversive film at worst and shows poor taste at best.
In the 1950s, famed “sexologist” Alfred Kinsey (considered the father of the sexual revolution in America) was accused of fudging data that indicated that bestiality and other sexual perversions were more common than thought, thus desensitizing the public to the idea and neutralizing their abhorrence of it.
Does Donkey Love unwittingly accomplish the same?
Kinsey’s controversial data directly led to drastic changes in obscenity and sex laws. It follows that the more bestiality is normalized, legislation declaring it illegal will likely come under serious threat.
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