John Cameron Mitchell‘s second feature Shortbus broke ground when it was released in 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival. It garnered critical acclaim for its boldness and exuberance. Oscilloscope managed to get a hold of the original film negative and restored and remastered it in 4K to release to the masses after the film has been out of wide circulation in the States for much of its life following its initial release.
The restored version of Shortbus is set to make its world premiere at NewFest in October before debuting at NYC’s IFC Center on January 26, 2022 and expanding to more theaters after.
Shortbus explores the lives of several emotionally challenged characters as they navigate the comic and tragic intersections between love and sex in and around a modern-day underground salon. A sex therapist who has never had an orgasm, a dominatrix who is unable to connect, a gay couple who are deciding whether to open up their relationship, and the people who weave in and out of their lives, all converge on a weekly gathering called Shortbus: a mad nexus of art, music, politics, and polysexual carnality. Set in a post-9/11, Bush-exhausted New York City, Shortbus tells its story with sexual frankness, suggesting new ways to reconcile questions of the mind, pleasures of the flesh, and imperatives of the heart.
About the restoration, filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell said, “When the classy O-Scope agreed to a rerelease, I almost came. We’ve been thinking long and hard about how to get Shortbus back out from under our distributor’s bankruptcy. Heroic legal work by our intrepid producers Howard Gertler and Tim Perell freed us and we’re back like a bad relationship. Actually a good one. As with Hedwig, I’ve encountered viewers around the world who tell me Shortbus helped them think about their sexuality and need for connection in a time when digital culture, porn, and dating apps make us feel lonelier. I think the film is even more necessary now in this time of ‘sex recession’ when young people are more afraid of the messiness of IRL interaction than ever. (We even changed the censorship laws in South Korea when we were banned there. Our distributor took it to the Korean Supreme Court who ruled we were ‘not pornographic’ but rather an artistically-minded sexually explicit piece that deserved to be seen. I was just thrilled that a Supreme Court had to watch it.)
“Now with our 4k remaster, we’ve future-proofed our little movie that pushes at the limits of fear and tries to spread love and understanding through humor, music, art, politics, romance, and good old SEX.”
O-Scope’s Dan Berger said, “I had the distinct pleasure (all puns intended) of playing a very small role in the initial rollout of Shortbus at THINKFilm in 2006. The film may be 15 years old now, but it’s as fresh, revelatory, and ahead of its time today as it was then. I couldn’t be more thrilled that O-Scope will be able to reintroduce this important gem of independent cinema to old and new audiences alike and to collaborate closely with the entire, impassioned filmmaking team to do so.”
Shortbus was produced by Howard Gertler, Tim Perell, and John Cameron Mitchell.