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Day 5

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)

Okay, forget everything bad I’ve said about Sundance, because today I saw the film Patti Smith: Dream of Life, and then I watched her perform at the festival’s music café, and it was magical. The film is an incredibly moving meditation on death and loss, shot by the director Steven Sebring in the style of a visual poem, in lush 16mm using only natural light. I dare you not to cry when Patti Smith talks about how the premature death of her brother became a positive force in her life, because his spirit opened and filled her heart like a flame, allowing her to absorb all his best qualities. Her reading of the Declaration of Independence followed by a brutally thorough recitation of all the heinous acts that George W. Bush has perpetrated against America is shockingly raw and powerful.

At the intimate concert, she and her band — including her son Jackson, who was standing in the corner of the stage because, she said, he’d been bad today — not only played some of her great songs (like Dancing Barefoot and Power to the People) but she also did amazing covers of Neil Young’s Helpless and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, which had me in tears again. Her banter with the audience was warm and natural — like when she declared it was the altitude not drugs that was making her winded, or when she quipped that the circulation of air in your lungs changes “when you’re 92!” (For the record, she’s 61 and looks fantastic.) But my favourite moment was when she confessed she sometimes feels like Patty Duke in Valley of the Dolls — the part where Patty as a down and out Neely O’Hara hears her own song on a jukebox in a crummy bar and says to a stranger, “Hey, that used to be me!” I wanted to run up and kiss her when she quoted that. I did get a chance to speak to the director, a lovely man, and tell him that his film is beautiful.

On a less magical note I also dropped in on the Telefilm party at the Yarrow Hotel today with my star, Jey Crisfar. It was a fairly sober affair, although I did meet the Canadian Consul General of Utah, his son and his assistant. The latter two saw Otto; or, Up with Dead People and they really liked it. Others, however, definitely do not. I’ve already come across some over-the-top nasty reviews on a few horror websites, which was exactly what I was expecting, and rather hoping for. You know, zero stars, pretentious, that sort of thing. (I love when people call me pretentious.) I’m really getting tired of these horror dweebs. They’re usually misogynists and homophobes who secretly (or not so secretly) get off on women being eviscerated and chopped up in crappy horror films. My friend Candy and I once did a satire of horror fanzines called Dumb Bitch Deserves To Die! because that’s basically what some of them are thinking, and sometimes even blatantly writing. Actually it’s all part of my strategy – to draw these straight horror jocks into my movie on the promise of a zombie plot and then torture them with sensitive gay love scenes and lesbian feminism. My diabolical plan is already working! Eviscerate the haters!

My co-producers Jennifer Jonas and Leonard Farlinger got some dispiriting news today. Apparently Alliance has reneged on their commitment to give a reasonable theatrical release to their excellent horse race film, All Hat. They’re just going to dump it into two small theatres in Canada in order to score a quick TV sale. It’s really disappointing when Canadian film industry types don’t support their own artists. Filmmaking is already hugely complicated and challenging enough as it is without having to fight the very people who are supposed to be promoting and distributing your work. Nice going, Canada!

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