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Day 4

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)

The second screening of Otto; or, Up with Dead People at Sundance, bloody Sundance is today at 3pm at the Egyptian theatre, my favourite venue in Park City. It’s the location of the world premiere of my last movie, The Raspberry Reich, a historic old theatre with sconces featuring Egyptian pharaohs. It’s the same theatre where Larry Clark’s Kids made such a splash at Sundance back in 1995.

I’m almost late for my own screening, so I have to run up Main Street, which is on a relatively steep hill, to get there on time. As the elevation of Park City makes the oxygen a little thin, I arrive totally winded and sweaty. The theatre is full, and the screening, in a more intimate theatre, is much more successful than the premiere. The audience seems to be really into the film, with very few walkouts, although the gut-f---ing scene always manages to clear a few people out. I’m not sure if we’ve sold the film yet, but I’m not really focusing on that. For me it’s more important to observe how it plays to audiences and how people respond afterwards.

The Q and A today is very positive and enthusiastic. Afterwards out on the street two fellows tell me outright that they like my zombie movie better than George Romero’s Diary of the Dead. Considering I think that film is brilliant, I take it as quite the compliment.

After the screening I have a couple of drinks with my old friend Danny Vinick of Brink Media, who hails from Tuscon, Arizona. He tells me that he’s attended Sundance every year for the past ten years except for last year, and that he thinks that the festival may have jumped the shark. I tend to agree: although I thoroughly appreciate being supported over the years by the festival, and although I think the core staff and programmers are amazing, it has become too commercial and “indie formulaic” for my tastes. Then again, I guess it’s just reflecting the zeitgeist.

I get lost on the way back to my chalet in the hills of Park City, which kind of remind me of a snowy version of the Hollywood Hills. The streets are so convoluted that even the over-priced taxis here find it difficult to find their destinations.

Tonight is the dinner party being thrown by two of my co-producers, Bruce Bailey and Alfredo Ferran Calle, at their nearby chalet. Bruce is a notoriously good host, and his largesse is legendary, so of course he’s pulled out all the stops, from baked brie to champagne to Remy Martin. He’s hired a local chef and a hostess, who have laid out an amazing dinner for eight. Strangely, Bruce and Alfredo don’t sit with us at the table, but rather hover around and tend to our needs and observe us from a distance. Later, Bruce informs us that his inspiration for the dinner has been the Luis Bunuel film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. It’s a classic Bruce Bailey touch.

Bruce is threatening to write a short memoir on his experiences and observations here called Death in Sundance. I can’t go into details, but there are some backstage shenanigans going on that would be appropriate for the Thomas Mann treatment.

After dinner I smoke a joint and take a dip solo in the outdoor hot tub. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever drunk champagne in a Jacuzzi. Good times. I look up at the moon and run over the events of the past few days in my head. I’m still a little hungover from the after party the night before, when we had fifteen or twenty people over after our premiere. Someone brought some party favours and we imbibed plenty of booze until the wee hours. Someone spilled beer on Terence Koh’s chinchilla. It was quite the soiree.

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