What is new German-Polish documentary Fuck For Forest, about a bunch of bohemians attempting to save the world’s rainforests by creating pornography, trying to do? It’s too coy and sweet to be controversialist exhibitionism: there’s only one actual sex scene, and that’s presented candidly and inclusively in a way transgressive voyeurism never is. It’s too unstructured to be propaganda or proselytism, and not big enough on character depth to be a real-life character study or a group biopic. What is the objective of director Michał Marczak?
The answer to that question is anyone’s guess. At 90 minutes, it’s far longer than it has any right to be; throughout, the subjects of the documentary retrogress in our perceptions from vaguely affable young adults to childish, highly irritating, self-indulgent, clueless middle-class bohemians that don’t even know how to really grab people’s attention.
Perhaps their marketing savvy isn’t catastrophic: the organisation Fuck For Forest (FFF) bagged £100,000 in its first year alone for the ecology it purports to save. And they do have a feature-length documentary about them released in cinemas, which is more than can be said for most charities. But how many people will actually see this film? Films about sex, let alone documentaries about sex, usually appeal to a niche market, and a tedious attempt to track the successes and failures (mostly failures) of ‘the world’s first eco-porn organisation’ is unlikely to reinvent the blockbuster. Their knack for effective self-promotion is limited, and their grasp of the realities of the world even more so.
There is, I suppose, a saving grace – but only if you have cash to burn, time to piss away, a febrile passion for “eco-porn”, and a profound capacity for Schadenfreude. One scene near the end follows our hapless heroes all the way to South America (how they got there, I don’t know – I can only assume that the mode of transportation was pollutive and reliant on fossil fuels). They try to offer charity money to an informal council of self-sufficient Peruvian farmers, and are totally misunderstood, their advances repudiated indignantly. The suspicion with which they are met is not, perhaps, totally warranted; however, given the Peruvians’ natural and justifiable distrust of Europeans, a ragtag bunch of disorganised, inconsistent bohemians is hardly going to, er, set the world on fire.
Some of the more brash, stupid, controversialist elements of the charity are skimmed over: there is no mention of one member dangling his dick in front of a Norwegian court, and no coverage of the simulation of sex during Mass in one Oslo cathedral. But we are still left with a dark side to the group that would be tragic if it wasn’t so pathetic: one Indian girl, a temporary member of the group, was kidnapped by a more senior member before her return to India. She was somehow persuaded to continue with the charity; she is rarely seen to be smiling in the film. We learn at the end that she eventually returns to India, where her parents have disowned and rejected her. A pointless, wasteful, ephemeral escapade for which she cannot wholly be blamed.
The final scene follows one of the now-fragmented group to Norway, where he talks to a man by an open fire – again, pollutive behaviour – about his latest plan to march naked in a public place. “It’s mad, but not impossible”, he says, to which the sane response from the man is, “But will it work?” The credits roll, and we are left with no answer to the question, and no reason as to why this pointless film exists.