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My Son the Pornographer (2008)

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We want our parents - and by extension, the world - to see and appreciate us as we really are. That struggle speaks to the generational gaps that most of us have had to reckon with at some point in our lives. In the amusingly raunchy and surprisingly tenderhearted documentary My Son the Pornographer, this dynamic plays out in the extreme.

Art Holbrook is a 65-year old staunchly conservative Canadian who harbors a deep regret. Years ago, he began a relationship with a woman who had two children from a previous marriage – Gina and Kole. Even though that relationship ultimately dissolved, he managed to form an unshakable bond with her kids, and vowed to remain a strong and familial presence in their lives no matter what.

The children found no consistency or grounding after their mother moved away from Art. This was particularly true of Kole, who soon suffered encounters of sexual molestation at the hands of an older man. Upon learning of these episodes of abuse many years later, Art is stricken by a profound sense of remorse. He believes that this childhood trauma likely holds a direct link to Kole's wayward existence today, and his profession as a writer and actor in the pornographic film industry in Prague. Did he do enough to protect the boy he loved as his own son, and is there still hope that he can help Kole heal from these long-festering wounds?

Accompanied by a documentary crew, Art heads to Prague, and immerses himself in Kole's world. The comedy of culture shock ensues as Art integrates himself into Kole's circle of friends and co-workers. In the process, his severely judgmental instincts begin to soften as he reaches a new level of acceptance and surrender. In turn, Kole reconnects with the only real family he's ever known, and works to find the strength to reclaim a sense of happiness and purpose in his life. Amidst the delirious and outrageous world of amateur pornography, and the painful remnants of deep-seated trauma, a delicate love story between a father and son unfurls before our eyes.

With great humor and pathos, My Son the Pornographer speaks to our ability to find common ground and overcome any obstacle through love and understanding.


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