“Pleasure,” an explicit drama about the adult film industry, marked Thyberg’s feature film directorial debut. In 2013, she directed a short of the same name, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival.
The movie takes a look at the Los Angeles porn industry through the lens of newcomer Bella Cherry (portrayed by Sofia Kappel), who moves from a small town in Sweden to pursue her dreams of stardom.
Prior to its premiere at Sundance, Thyberg told Variety she was interesting in holding a mirror to the way media images shape our identity.
“People consume so much pornography today and it’s something that we never discuss publicly or talk about amongst our friends,” she said. “It’s a huge part of our culture that exists in a world of shadows and that made me curious to understand more about it. I guess because it was taboo, that’s why I wanted to dig into it.”
Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman lauded “Pleasure,” calling it an “intentionally stark” and “disturbingly authentic” look at what the porn industry has become.
“A movie like “Pleasure” jerks the skeevy, compulsive porn world out of the closet in a way that few movies have,” Gleiberman wrote. “That’s a brave thing to, and what makes it work is that Ninja Thyberg, revealing the instincts of a true filmmaker, uses her characters to discover the things she’s telling us.”
Last month, CAA Media Finance brokered a deal with A24 for the film’s U.S. distribution rights, with Versatile handling international rights. A24 plans to release the full uncensored film, as well as an R-rated version, later this year.
Thyberg has directed several short films, including “Hot Chicks,” “Girls & Boys,” “Mother Father Child” and “The Kill.”
Thyberg continues to be represented in Sweden by Agentfirman Planthaber Kildén Mandic Boström.