F*ck for Forest is a serious documentary about a group of people with serious aims, but it’s hard not to find it all rather amusing. Not that the film is deliberately laughing at its subjects, but the whole thing is so unlikely that it’s hard not to at least smirk.
The second feature length documentary from Michał Marczak, F*ck for Forest takes its name from a gang of eco-activists that raise money for saving the world’s rain forests by, well, fucking. That is, they make their own porn films which they then sell on their website. The income from these films is then used to save the tropical rain forests. It’s pretty out there.
This is an unusual approach to fundraising, and their living arrangements are also fairly atypical too. FFF, as they can be abbreviated to in order to save time and blushes, live in a Berlin commune. All this is perfect material for a documentary – alternative lifestyles, unusual ethics quandaries and sex. However it is slightly complicated by Marczak’s approach to filming the group.
Marczak takes us into the world of FFF by following new member Danny as he joins the group. We see what they are up to and they speak for themselves, but apart from a little explanatory commentary from Marczak, we are given little context. Perhaps it’s a little square of me, but I would have appreciated some talking heads to reflect on their enterprise.
Whatever you may say about F*ck for Forest, it raises plenty of fascinating questions. Principally, is it possible to make ethical porn and do they spend their money effectively? Marczak explained in his interview with us, that he prefers to let the audience make up their own minds. This confidence in his audience is admirable, but it does presuppose the film has provided us with enough context to form informed opinions. Perhaps years of watching unadventurous British television documentaries has created certain expectations or maybe I find it difficult to think for myself, but I would also appreciate reflection from ‘experts’.
Still, FFF are a curious bunch and following them is not dull. In their ‘rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters’, they are handsome people and they are handsomely shot. FFF may have started off in Norway, but now they are very ‘Berlin’. I’m sure that Marczak does his best to take the group as he finds them, but sometimes it really is hard not to laugh. The tuneless singing is especially hard to get over, but there are other priceless vignettes too. And then the simple unlikeliness of their project is just plain funny.
The film divides in two. The first half set in their Berlin stomping ground can appear slightly slow at times, but the director explained to us that this is merely reflecting the slow pace of life they live at. The second half follows them on a trip to the Amazon itself where they try to find worthy recipients for their porn-gotten gains and finally encounter the forest they are fucking for.
Events in the jungle don’t proceed entirely as they may have wished. It is here that some have criticised Marczak for his representation of FFF’s struggles. While they did not succeed on this occasion, he omits to mention that they have found recipients for their donations on other occasions.
In FFF Marczak has found fertile documentary material including characters, story (in the second half at least), and ‘issues’. The combination of the earthy exigencies of porn, noble ideals and hippy freakiness is a potent mix. I’m just not sure I’ll ever quite get over FFF approaching people at a music festival to see if they mind going into the bushes to take a few snaps without their clothes on.
Buy F*ck For Forest here: