Screened as part of NZIFF 2021

Pleasure 2020

Directed by Ninja Thyberg

Bella Cherry arrives in LA from Sweden ready to take the adult film world by storm, but the often-abusive, male-dominated industry presents its own unique pitfalls in Ninja Thyberg's feature debut.

Sweden In English and Swedish with English subtitles
109 minutes DCP



Sofia Kappel
Evelyn Claire


Erik Hemmendorff
Eliza Jones
Markus Waltå


Ninja Thyberg
Peter Modestij


Sophie Winqvist Loggins


Olivia Neergaard-Holm
Amalie Westerlin Tjellesen


Karl Frid


Cannes (Selection) 2020; Sundance 2021

“The observational eye of Pleasure, an ambitious Sundance debut by the Swedish film-maker Ninja Thyberg, is so transactional, at once unsparing and recessive, that one might mistake the first 10 minutes of this drama on the American adult film business for a documentary... It’s an often subtle (even in its many XXX-rated shots) and surreptitious study of an industry built on explicit, aggressive imagery, an arresting film which... thankfully delineates between the legitimate work of adult film performers and the toxicity, misogyny and abuse the male-dominated industry allows to fester and lacerate...

Pleasure takes a tour through the late 2010s porn industry – certified, competitive agencies and Instagram followings, camera-filled parties and fan conventions – through the rise of Bella [Sofia Kappel], placidly beautiful with ice blue eyes and an icier stare, the type of girl who brazenly jokes about her dad raping her as a motivation for turning to porn but keeps to herself, ambition played close to her chest... [T]he main throughline is the work, neither condescended to nor dismissed here, as Thyberg eschewed more obvious plots a lesser director, or a male one, would probably pursue...

Kappel takes on a remarkably difficult role for her first feature, one that requires a double performance... of naive trepidation with undaunted ambition, and... the rookie is up to the task. So, too, are the numerous adult film actors who appear as themselves or take on lightly fictionalized version of their careers here, imbuing Pleasure with a striking, refreshing sense of realism.” — Adrian Horton, The Guardian