James Franco Likely to Make Sundance Audiences Squirm—Again

The multitasking celebrity's film festival entries aren't for the faint of heart

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James Franco attends "The Broken Tower": An Evening with James Franco during the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival held on June 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

With last week’s announcement of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival slate, fans of the multi-hyphenate actor-director-producer-writer-performance artist James Franco got two pieces of happy news: Franco’s involved in two separate films at the prestigious winter festival.

Franco served as a producer on the documentary kink, directed by Christina Voros, which will be a part of the “Park City at Midnight” series of world premieres. kink takes a look at sex and business from the perspective of employees of the San Francisco-based Kink.com pornography company. He is also a co-director (with Travis Mathews) and co-star of the film Interior. Leather Bar., which is an imagination of what the 40 minutes of gay S&M action that was said to have been cut from the 1980 movie Cruising—a cut necessary in order to help it escape an X rating—might have looked like. Interior. Leather Bar. will be featured in the “New Frontier” series, which focuses on that way cinema interacts with new media and other artistic formats. The New York Times also reports that Franco’s turn as Hugh Hefner in Lovelace may make it to Sundance as well.

See a pattern?

(MORESundance Books Record Slate of Female Filmmakers)

If there’s a theme to these movies, it’s not one that will shock Sundance regulars. (Well, at least the fact of the theme won’t be surprising.) The transgressive focus of Franco’s 2013 entries may actually be a reprieve for filmgoers. Sure, neither movie sounds like a good fit for prudish audiences, but the money side of pornography is a fascinating subject and BDSM between consenting adults is their business—and, however the movies turn out, it’s likely that Franco will have shown far more disturbing sex-centric material at Sundance.

His 2010 Sundance-entry short film Herbert White, based on a poem of the same name by Frank Bidart, is a character study of a seeming family man who is driven to act of rape, murder and necrophilia. Artistic merit aside, it may be one of the hardest films to sit through in recent history. If Herbert White is any indication, Franco won’t shy away from the parts of his subjects that are harder for audiences to stomach. Get ready, Utah.

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