Humping a cardboard insect to death dressed in a large, colourful bee suit may seem like a strange role for a glamour icon whose face has graced the cover of every major fashion magazine, but for Isabella Rossellini such a scene was an easy way of getting people’s attention.
“We decided we were going to do a film about sex because people are interested in sex, they’re not so interested in animals. So I said we’ll do sex of the animals and we’ll get the audience,” she said in an interview in Toronto.
Gearing up for the world premiere of the latest of her two-minute short films about the mating habits of insects and sea creatures, Rossellini explains how Green Porno stemmed from a fascination with animals and a childhood dream to make movies.
“When I was little, I always liked films, I always thought that I would be in films, or be a storyteller, and then I became a model and actress.”
Rossellini was the face of Lancôme for 14 years, has appeared in several feature films and has written three books.
In 2005, she ventured behind the lens and wrote a film tribute to her father, film director Roberto Rossellini, called My Dad is 100 Years Old. The film caught the eye of Robert Redford, who asked her to develop a series of short, environmentally conscious films for tiny screens (the Internet, hand-held computers and mobile phones).
Made in a “do-it-yourself” style, Rossellini dresses in large, colourful, paper costumes showing and telling how each species procreates.
“My main intention was to make a comical film and to have accurate information. I want people to laugh after seeing Green Porno, then to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’”
A feat she has definitely accomplished, with more than three million online viewers who now know that man bees fornicate to death and male whales have six-foot erections.
Want to see it?
• Green Porno: Scandalous Sea opens today and runs until Sept. 20 at the Spirit House, Level 1 of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. The free installation that includes large paper props from the films will be accessible from the Bloor Street entrance of the Royal Ontario Museum.
• Green Porno: Bon Appétit is a screening followed by a talk with Isabella Rossellini and marine biologist Claudio Campagna about the environmental context of the project, and a short documentary about the mating habits of elephant seals. Takes place tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. at the Yonge and Dundas AMC.
• Green Porno debuts online Monday, Sept. 14 on sundancechannel.com and the Harper Collins releases the book nationwide on Sept. 22.