Biography: Jennifer Lyon Bell

Jennifer Lyon Bell © Alexa Vachon


Forever wishing that all movies had longer and better sex scenes, Harvard graduate Jennifer Lyon Bell decided to take matters in her own hands. With Blue Artichoke Films (Amsterdam), she mixes arthouse cinema with hot explicit sex to create erotic fiction films and documentaries that illuminate the riveting, intimate, and sometimes delightfully awkward side of sex.





Jennifer combines psychology and filmmaking. She first earned an honors BA in Psychology from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA), and then moved to Amsterdam to graduate with an MA in Film And Television Studies (film theory) from the University of Amsterdam  in the Netherlands.  She became the first person ever at the University of Amsterdam to write a Film Studies master’s thesis about pornography.  Named “Engaging the Body: The Possibilities and Limitations of Character-Based Theory in Explaining Pornography,” she explored the interrelated concepts of sympathy and empathy in understanding people’s physical and emotional reactions to pornography.  To this day, she always consciously works with sympathy and empathy in her filmmaking, and finds those phenomena valuable for creating intense erotic connection between her characters and the viewer.





Jennifer’s award-winning films screen at international festivals, cinemas, and museums all over America, Europe, Japan, and South America.  Her trilogy “Silver Shoes” premiered at the London ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts), screened by invitation at the Schwules Museum Berlin, and received the “Movie Of The Year” grand prize at the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto. Her explicitly erotic fiction film “Matinée” has won three Best Film awards including one from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival which it won by jury prize — even though the film was technically banned from the festival by the Australian Classification Board for its intense sexual content. Her love/porn collaboration “Skin. Like. Sun.” has been embraced by sexologists at home and abroad for its unusually realistic depiction of female pleasure. And her arty erotic documentary “Headshot,” which screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner at its launch, broadcast recently on primetime television for half a million viewers. Her virtual reality 3D 360° immersive experience film “Second Date” was nominated for a VR award at the Raindance Film Festival (London) at its World Premiere, and recently screened at the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. And her new “experimental erotic game” film Adorn, a mixed documentary/music-video exploration, won “Best Short Dramatic Film” at its World Premiere in New York.  Adorn is now premiering worldwide.   Films and details


Jennifer Lyon Bell's film Headshot (Blue Artichoke Films) discussed on VPRO's show Zomergasten with Simone van Saarloos
Headshot (Blue Artichoke Films) discussed on VPRO’s Zomergasten with philopsopher Simone van Saarloos


Artistic honors


  • The CineKink/NY Film Festival’s first ever Artist Spotlight award for Jennifer’s body of work:

“We first screened Jennifer’s work in 2006, her short film Headshot, and we’ve been honored to feature all of her cinematic offerings ever since,” says Lisa Vandever, CineKink co-founder and director. “Her unique ability to combine a great sense of story and artistic filmmaking, along with explicit imagery and a feminist sensibility, definitely put her in the vanguard of adult cinema, and set a high bar to which other filmmakers can aspire.”


  • European Feminist Porn Award (PorYes) for Jennifer’s body of work:

“Her specialty is slow-sex as well as a realistic and pleasurable representation of sexuality with a focus on female pleasure. She captures the changes of the skin during sexual stimulation with her camera and so shares unusual and extraordinary perspectives that are demonstrated by teachers and (female) sexologists alike. Her highly intelligent porn movies support sexual communication while also toying with the roles of the actors and the audiences.”




In addition to filmmaking, Jennifer curates erotic-themed film programs and exhibitions for museums, arts institutions, and festivals including one of the longest running exhibitions ever at The Museum of Sex/New York (MOSEX). She was a co-director of Amsterdam’s own Rated X Amsterdam Alternative Erotica Film Festival, and a consultant for the Dutch EYE FilmMuseum’s erotic archive. More on curation





Jennifer was the alternative newspaper Amsterdam Weekly’s first and only sex columnist, “Ladywood.” She has written for several academic journals including the journal Film Studies, the journal Porn Studies, and various art publications. She is the author of several entries in the Encyclopedia Of Sex And Gender (ed: Thompson Gale). More on writing





She enjoys presenting on porn and recently gave the closing keynote, “Empathy and Pornography,” at the first Sex And The Cinema film studies conference at the University of Kent. She also taught at the Dutch Film Academy (NFTA) in what may be the first ever erotic film workshop offered at a national film school. She is regularly invited to speak at film festivals and at special events, on a wide range of topics from feminist porn, to creating erotic VR, to sexual pop culture. A few include “The Sound Of Sex” (on the erotic power of audio in porn/erotica), “Curating for Erotic Film Festivals,” “Sensuality and Ethics in Virtual Reality,”  “Sadie and Jennifer: A Live Filmmaking Director/Actor Improvisation” (a live recreation of Jennifer’s shooting of a BDSM erotic scene), and “Creating Openminded Policy: Has Dutch Culture Become More Prudish?”. More on teaching





Her current workshops include alternative/feminist porn, historical stag films, cognitive film theory approaches to porn, and the self-empowering creative workshop “From Fantasy To Film: Design Your Own Erotic Film” which she has taught all over the world. More on workshops, or workshop intro video




Other artists on Jennifer


Jennifer’s work has been featured and explored in many books, articles, and academic theses.  Her work has been flatteringly reviewed in “After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters,” (Anne G. Sabo, PhD, Zero Books), “McSex:  The Pornofication of Our Society,” (Myrthe Hilkens, Atlas-Contact), “Women And Sex: From Mother-Love to Sex Robot” (Maartje Laterveer, Lebowski Press), “Daddy: A Memoir” by Madison Young, “Scratch (Krabben)” by Daan Borrel and Milou Deelen, Lvstprinzip (Principles Of Lust) by Theresa Lachner, “Haar Genot (Her Pleasure)” by José Kuijpers, multiple articles in Routledge’s Journal of Porn Studies, and more. More press




                        Journal of Porn Studies         Lvstprinzip, a book by Theresa Lachner    






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Jennifer Lyon Bell © Brand Berghouwer


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