Acclaimed documentary film Shakedown has found a home on a streaming service no one expected. It is slated to become the first non-adult film streamed by Pornhub. The site is already trying to establish their place in artistic legitimacy, and this film is the perfect way to start.
The documentary explores the dance scene in lesbian bars, in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. The name is derived from one of the underground clubs showcased in the film. Over 400 hours of footage and interviews were collected in preparation for Shakedown, and the film attempts to be many things at once. It is first and foremost an anthropological study of black and lesbian culture through dance, but is also highly experimental in terms of its overall aesthetic.
Pornhub has looked to expand their brand for some time, now. In 2018 they opened PornHub Art: a department dedicated to supporting smaller artistic films. Projects taken on by the company thus far include films produced by the Visionaries Director’s Club. Mindgeek, parent company of PornHub, is somewhat of an outsider in the porn industry. Its focus lies more on tech and the expertise of those who develop it: valuable assets for anyone in film production.
Mindgeek has bought a dozens of production companies, picking up the crumbs left by smaller competitors such as Youporn and Redtube. They have discussed their future steps into non-porn related content, in a recent interview with Playboy.
“We’ve only begun to flirt with respectful depictions of queer sex, kink and sex work on-screen, but those stories often live and die in the art houses. Countless nuanced perspectives remain unexplored by studios.”
The streaming industry as a whole is in a similar situation to PornHub: trying to move onto bigger and better things to become better established in the film industry. The streaming industry is having similar problems, unable to garner proper recognition for their films at award ceremonies within the industry.
Leilah Weinraub is an American filmmaker and conceptual artist, and is also a fellow at the Sundance Institute. She was born in New York to African-American Jewish parents. Weinraub’s past work includes collaboration with the director of American History X, on his project Lake of Fire. Shakedown is her most famous film to date, receiving wide critical acclaim.
There’s an exciting opportunity now to present films in the art space, there’s more openness to diversity and content, and a different sort of storytelling,” said Weinraub. She added that she hopes to specifically engage PornHub’s female users.
The company declined to issue a statement about the demographic of its users, but their 2019 user data is staggering, suggesting the site hosts more than 169 years’ worth of content.
Overall, Shakedown poses an interesting opportunity for the film industry, and viewers should definitely check it out.