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Day 2

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)

Friday was the first really busy day of the festival, so Park City was crawling with film industry types looking for product. The free shuttle buses that chug along the snowy streets were packed with people talking loudly and sometimes obnoxiously about the films they’d seen, what’s hot and what’s not. My co-producer Leonard Farlinger tells me on one shuttle he overheard six people loudly debating the merits of my oeuvre and whether or not they were going to check out Otto. One was a naysayer, so Leonard yelled out as he got off the bus that he’d seen Otto, and it rocks. It’s nice to have people in your corner.

After puttering around at Sundance headquarters with my other co-producer, Jennifer Jonas, we head for our first party, a Wall Street Journal-sponsored affair for the opening film of the Slamdance film festival, a Canadian effort called Real Time. Our international sales agent, Charlotte Mickie, is also representing this film, a hit man movie starring Randy Quaid. Quaid stands laconically at the party in a big furry parka. Nearby at the bar, Freddy Kreuger – or at least the guy who plays him in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies – chats affably with several guests. If he’d worn his famous razor hand it might have livened things up a little bit.

Definitely livening things up is another Toronto Bruce, Bruce Bailey, and his husband, Alfredo Ferran Calle, both co-producers of Otto; or, Up with Dead People. Bruce has come to show his support, and he will be throwing an exclusive dinner party for people involved in the making of the film on Sunday night. In his Tom Ford for Gucci black evening coat with black fox fur trim and black bowler hat, he definitely stands out against the white snow banks of Sundance.

At this point we try to get the star of our picture, Jey Crisfar, a 19-year-old ingénue from Brussels, into the party, but because he’s underage, it’s impossible. Utah is technically a dry state, so liquor laws are draconian: the drinking age is 21; you can’t order doubles (you have to order a single with a sidecar, a shot on the side); and you can’t mix more than two kinds of liquor in one drink. I guess we won’t be drinking any Zombies!

We decide to split the party, just as Robert Lantos himself makes his grand entrance. His company, Maximum Films, is our sales agent, so I guess I should meet him, but right now we’re just two ships that passed. During the day.

It’s late afternoon, but I’m hungry and here in the boondocks, people eat early. We all walk down Main Street to Zoom, Robert Redford’s restaurant here in Park City. We don’t have a reservation, but Bruce had dined here last night and met Redford himself – and gave him a promotional postcard for our movie, which has a naked boy on it! – so he’s already chummy with the maitre d’ and we’re quickly squired to a table for seven. Seven mojitos later, the food arrives, good hearty ski country fair, and we chow down like the Donner Party.

Saturday is our big day, the world premiere of Otto, so after dinner when everyone else goes to the premiere of Real Time, I decide to go back to our old-school seventies-style chalet and spend some time alone to meditate on my accomplishment, a film two years in the making from the beginning of writing until now. As fire figures prominently in the movie, I light one in the fireplace and gaze into the burning embers. It’s nice sometimes to spend a romantic evening at home alone.

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