Danland still

One of the highlights at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival is the documentary "Danland," which follows the romantic pursuits of a well-known producer and star of amateur pornography. The film begins with this man, ‘Porno’ Dan Leal, on his wedding day, but we can’t really see who the bride is. Then we go back a few years and watch his relationships grow and die, some resurrected, others gone for good. It’s truly a movie for equal enjoyment among couples. There’s the porn stuff for the guys and the romance for the girls. And for just general doc lovers it’s an entertaining look into a strange and complicated world. 

Although I was unable to make it to Park City this year, I managed to talk with "Danland" director Alexandra Berger from miles away. A veteran of the film industry, this is the filmmaker’s feature directorial debut and it displays a great new voice in the doc community and promise of wonderful things to come. Below is our conversation, in which we discussed inception of narrative in verite documentary, the benefit of being a woman documenting this subject matter and the difficulty to market a film that really should appeal to everyone.

How did you become involved with Dan and decide to make a film about him?

I had a friend who moved from New York to D.C., and when he did so he told me that he felt invisible, so he joined a Yahoo! Group of black men who fulfilled women’s fantasies of having multiple partners at once. And that Yahoo! Group was discovered by Dan Leal —‘Porno Dan’ — and Dan said, “hey, why don’t you guys come do your fantasy sex acts in my basement and I’ll shoot them and give you snacks and sodas, and if you don’t want to show your face you can wear a mask.” That group agreed and allowed Dan to do that. So then my friend confessed to me at one point that he had been performing in porno films. From there, first I was shocked, and then I became very interested. I was intrigued by these men who wear masks having sex with women, just the anonymity. That’s what lured me initially.

Continue reading this interview at the DOC Channel Blog