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Many presume that, despite its fictitious premises, pornography at least contains moments of physiological truth. After all, penetration cannot be acted, so to speak. Or can it? Omer Fast questions such assumptions in Everything That Rises Must Converge, 2013, a four-channel film that interweaves three principal story lines. The first follows the lives of four real porn actors in Los Angeles over one day. Fast inserts himself into the second story: A character named Omer interviews a porn director and then helps an actress rehearse a monologue. The third story, which follows a female protagonist in the midst of a marital crisis, at first seems unrelated to the other two.
The three story lines appear to clearly correspond to three levels of fiction. The first is a documentary, the second re-creates a plausible slice of life, and the third—the most theatrically crafted—seems completely fabricated. Yet over the course of the film, these distinctions begin to collapse. The site of each segment is the same. And when the protagonist of the final scene, with a gun in her hand, reaches the building where her husband is, the door opens to reveal the fictional porn director busy filming an actual act of coitus.
The footage featuring explicit sex ends up seeming the most fictitious and unreal, as the lively affect of the porn actors on set, and the elaborate way they are filmed, conspicuously contrasts their lack of expressivity in the scenes depicting their daily lives. Are these last scenes, then, real or staged? (It’s a question that also underlies many reality shows.) While Fast poses questions of an ethical order (the film takes its title from a story by the Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor that deals with destiny, guilt, and remorse, while the porn director speaks of the sexual abuse he suffered as a child), the artist continues, as in previous works, to inexorably deconstruct the categories of truth and fiction in moving images.
Translation from Italian by Marguerite Shore.