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Day 1

Sundance 2008 blog Bruce LaBruce is one of Canada’s most audacious filmmakers. His satiric, sexually graphic work includes Super 8 ½ (1993), Hustler White (1996) and The Raspberry Reich (2004). His latest picture is the gay zombie film Otto; or Up with Dead People. The film has its world premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, which runs Jan. 17-27. LaBruce will be blogging about his adventures at Sundance for CBCNews.ca.


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Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce. (Bruce LaBruce)

I arrive in Salt Lake City in the early evening on a cramped little Delta jet airliner, the only direct flight from Toronto. I noticed while reading on the plane that my movie, Otto; or, Up with Dead People, got a mention on the front page of the National Post — but maybe that’s because it seems to be the only Canadian dramatic feature playing at Sundance, which is kind of scandalous. Come on, Canada: represent!

My pre-reserved shuttle is waiting for me as planned; I share it with five other Canucks on their way to Park City. The chatty driver plays the best of Dan Fogelberg for the whole 35-mile drive, solemnly informing us that the singer recently passed away. I feel like slitting my wrists.

My spirits are lifted when I arrive at our little ski chalet, which couldn’t be more adorable. My Canadian co-producers, Jennifer Jonas and Leonard Farlinger, have already arrived, are sitting beside the roaring fireplace; the kitchen is stocked with food and drink. Sundance can be so quaint.

I only have a couple of hours to eat and shower and change before my friend Brian arrives to whisk me back to Salt Lake City. You see, I’ve been invited by a club promoter named Justin Strange to guest DJ at his Thursday electro-indie club. The bar is called The Trapp Door, which is right next door to a country and western watering hole called The Trapp (the heavily tattooed bartender there apparently wants to meet me). Justin is a local It boy, promoter and DJ who has a queer radio show that he interviewed me for several years ago when I was at Sundance with my last movie, The Raspberry Reich. Justin has “The Revolution Is My Boyfriend” — a slogan from the movie — tattooed across his stomach. I guess you could say I have a local fanbase.

After many years of attending Sundance, I’ve learned that you ignore Salt Lake City at your own peril. It’s simply bad form to jet in from Hollywood or Toronto and breeze through a city of a million people without even saying a howdy-do. My appearance has been nicely promoted, and I also have an interview, alongside zombie master George Romero and Troma Film founder Lloyd Kaufman, in The Slug, the cool Salt Lake City free weekly. We’ve also extended our stay at Sundance by one day so we can attend our screening in Salt Lake City on Tuesday evening, after which I plan to drop into the Trapp to meet that bartender. My Salt Lake screening last time was sold out and by far the most enthusiastic.

Salt Lake City is about sixty percent Mormon, and a good number of them are either reasonably moderate or non-practicing. It’s actually pretty civilized. My friend Brian, whom I met in Berlin, is from a Mormon family who kicked him out of the house when he was seventeen for being gay. He’s reconciled with them since then, and he’s spending a few months here before moving back to San Francisco. He’s also friends with Gus Van Sant, so he’s going to visit the set of Gus’s Harvey Milk movie — which begins shooting on Monday — and maybe even nab a small role. Brian is a wild child who picks me up for the drive to my Salt Lake City gig in a car that looks like it’s falling apart. He says it took a beating when he drove to Denver through a blizzard recently. He said he had to get out of town because he was bored out of his mind.

Brian is also friends with Brian Singer, the director of such movies as X-Men and Apt Pupil, the latter of which starred Brad Renfro. Brad was just found dead in his L.A. apartment last week at the age of twenty-five. I hung out with Brad once about seven or eight years ago in Toronto, along with the actresses Bijou Phillips and Dominique Swain, when they were there shooting a movie called Tart. Brad was a sweet kid of seventeen then who’d already had some problems with drugs and the law. Hollywood’s a tough town, and once a year it descends on a small ski resort town called Park City. More carnage to follow.

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