A Life in Dirty Movies is a love story about legendary sexploitation director Joe Sarno, “the Ingmar Bergman of 42nd Street,” and his loyal wife and collaborator Peggy. The doc follows the Sarnos for a year, as 88-year-old Joe struggles to get a new film project off the ground, a female-centric softcore film that harkens back to the style of his heyday as a filmmaker in the 1960s. As audiences tag along for the eventful and often hilarious journey between wintery Manhattan and the couple’s summer retreat in Sweden, the film’s intimate perspective reveals a filmmaker on the verge of being rediscovered in his golden years. The film takes a look back at the evolution of softcore films, which were seen as racy in their day, and how they evolved into unmistakable hardcore porn that all but put Sarno and his filmmaking style out of business. The film chronicles Sarno’s significant place in film history as an erotic “auteur,” whose ambitions as a filmmaker often surpassed the needs of the genre he helped define. Interviews with various critics and director John Waters are interspersed throughout. A Life in Dirty Movies is a clever and sincere portrait of a unique couple who follow their passion in life, onscreen and off.
Bay Area Premiere