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The Set-up

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.

arts_labruce_392.jpg
Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce. (Bruce LaBruce)

This is the fourth time I’ve been invited to Park City, Utah to attend Bob Redford’s little vanity project (which has become one of the top five film festivals on the planet), and it’s my third world premiere. Funny place to have a world premiere, in a remote mountain ski resort in one of the more conservative states of America — especially considering I don’t ski — but that’s show business.

When I first traveled to Sundance in 1995 with my movie Super 8 ½, the festival was essentially two snow banks and a pre-eyeliner Jared Leto. But even then it had apparently become too mainstream for some disgruntled film folk, who started up a parallel film festival, Slamdance, that year. (A few years later, an alternative to the alternative, called Slamdunk, would emerge, followed by Tromadance, the only festival with no entry fee and free screenings.)

I can’t remember much about my screening in 1995, but I do vividly recall attending Larry Clark’s Kids, the sensation of the festival, as the guest of its executive producer, Gus Van Sant, and its writer, Harmony Korine. I remember because Gus and his then-boyfriend, D-J, and I smuggled a bottle of tequila into the screening and kept slipping it to Harmony, who was under the legal drinking age. Fun times!

The following year, I presented the world premiere of my movie Hustler White. at Sundance. Hollywood had really begun to descend on the festival with a vengeance, like a plague of sewage (see: the South Park episode about Sundance). It was still fun, but there were too many agents and entertainment lawyers and other men in black running rings around the poor Parker Poseys, desperately looking for the next big thing. As I had partly financed my film by pre-selling U.S. rights, they pretty much left me alone. Besides, a movie featuring an amputee hustler who pleasures his clients with his leg stump isn’t necessarily the kind of indie fare they’re looking for to break into the multiplexes.

Four years ago I returned to Sundance with The Raspberry Reich, a sexually explicit movie about the leader of a gang of extreme left-wing terrorists who makes her straight male followers have sex with each other to prove their revolutionary commitment. Once again, it wasn’t exactly Little Miss Sunshine, and as it had been pre-sold to US. distributor Strand Releasing, I wasn’t paid much mind, although the film did go on to play at over 150 film festivals worldwide. This time I was a little shocked to discover that Sundance had become so overrun by Hollywood types that Paris Hilton herself was in attendance. In fact, at one party, I was asked to relinquish my banquette beside the DJ booth to make way for the Queen of All Emptiness. Only to prove that chivalry wasn’t quite dead yet, I magnanimously complied.

Returning this year with my new movie, Otto; or, Up with Dead People, all bets are off. It’s another world premiere, but this time we haven’t pre-sold the U.S. territory. I will be attending with my Canadian co-producers, Jennifer Jonas and Leonard Farlinger of New Real Films, and our sales agent, Charlotte Mickie of Maximum Films, who will have the pleasure of trying to sell a melancholy gay zombie movie with political overtones to a mob of distributors looking for the next Juno. On the upside, I’m in the Park City at Midnight section alongside Diary of the Dead, directed by recent Toronto resident George A. Romero, the master of the zombie genre. Apparently we used the same camera to shoot our respective zombie movies, the Panasonic 900 HDX. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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Comments

Cait

Ott

Good on CBC. Bruce Labruce is the perfect antithesis for Sundance coverage.
We are eagerly awaiting more installments.

Posted January 17, 2008 09:07 AM

jrob

alberta

hey bruce la b. - very droll but also very funny - look forward to more entries.
stick to your guns with the "emptiness" factor a the festival - beware of hanger-ons and keep it real ... oh btw - good luck with selling your film.

Posted January 17, 2008 10:35 AM

Anthony Glassman

If there is one person whose experiences at Sundance could be expected to be interesting, amusing, witty, incisive and completely honest, it's Bruce LaBruce. One can only hope he's so tired of her publicity that this year, instead of relinquishing a banquette next to the DJ booth to her, he instead slaps Paris Hilton.

Posted January 17, 2008 10:35 AM

Stef

It must be the end of the world. Bruce LaBruce at cbc.ca?! Finally, some real counter-culture for the Corp. It hasn't been the same since Brave New Waves was cancelled (and even then... not since Brent left BNW).

Posted January 17, 2008 11:02 AM

Joshua

Who woulda figured a boy from Port Elgin (or was it Kincardine) would become such a darling of the dark-star set? We love you Bruce!

Posted January 17, 2008 07:12 PM

Laurie Gordon

...and now here I am at Sundance about to venture out.I will comment here perhaps on my Sundance newbie Sundance impressions. Personally I am happy to shmooze top level execs in the hopes my film(s) and ideas become as commercial as heck so Canada can be proud of me and claim me as their own. Oh Canada still doesn't recognize my brand of CHIWAWA music but are supporting our films (the Late Ryan Larkin's animation film Spare Change and a documentary on his reanimation to creativity) are in production and the Canadian film industry has been by far kinder to me then the Canadian music insiders. Viva Sundance.I'll keep you posted on my hopes, hits and disappointments.
cha cha cha
Laurie Gordon

Posted January 18, 2008 10:48 AM

Waub WAUTERS

Vancouver

Yes, it is a relief to see Bruce blogging for the CBC. Laurels (this time) to the CBC. As a media junkie, it's refreshing to come across honest (or is it un-self-censored?) commentary. It's equally interesting that the CBC recognizes that art and artists have something more to say than their art alone offers. I'm impressed. Thanks Bruce. Have fun for us all, B.

Posted January 18, 2008 03:44 PM

Jon Champion

Who are you? Since the demise of UK's The Face I thought all underground pop-culture was dead.. fantastic read...thought provoking and quite interesting...writing as an australian in toronto at the moment (-10 not really my thing) its intriguing to see this kind of post on a conglomerate news website...especially considering how commercialised the bbc has become... will definately be tracking down some of your films... who knows maybe someone will put them up on quicksilverscreen.com? the end of the world is coming and i love it! rock on

Posted January 22, 2008 03:45 AM

Laurie Gordon

I've slept two hours and I am exhausted.I have a meeting in two hours with one network and a half hour later with a second. I want to sleep for the next 48 but life has it that this is impossible. I have been in the same breathing space as many celebrities in the last 100 hours and as many investors.
I am happy to say that I am happy , impressed and at times thoroughly disgusted. All at once, with the beautiful, deranged, ugly, and persistent I am me in the abstract. I have been in a house with 50 Cent - who was in a secured room playing Celebrity Poker. Stakes at amounts like $60,000.00...beautiful girls with dilated pupils headed the way of Edie Sedgwick. Harry O's, the disco everyone's there aligned with giant body guards bigger than vikings. The excess and the pretense is worthy of an anthropological study. Deirdre Hall from Days of Our Lives is nice. Morgan Freeman is suffering from altitude sickness...couldn't get up Main street easily..."Wait Up..."Val Kilmer who seems to be at a normal wait again and actress who's name escapes me are serious tennis players and trained yesterday...Kanye West plays tonight. Now time to be a filmmaker.Off to meeting I will be uploading moving images soon...later.
I am proud of my Canada pin pinned ( freak in a parka image) to my coat next to my NERD button. . I love saying I am Canadian. Montreal has the cool factor. "WOW, I LOVE Montreal." jazz fest....
yawn Yippee
ps saw Bruce at the TELEFILM Lounge at the Yarrow Hotel..."who's that? "Oh , that's Bruce LaBruce."
No introduction and off he, Bruce, went after delivering poster...

Posted January 22, 2008 10:50 AM

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