Arts·Here & Queer

Queer cinema icon Bruce LaBruce has fearlessly tackled taboos for 30 years. The latest? 'Twincest'

The legendary Canadian artist stopped by the set of Here & Queer to talk about his latest film, Saint-Narcisse, and his decades-long career.

The legendary Canadian artist stopped by Here & Queer to talk about his latest film, Saint-Narcisse

Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce sits down on the set of Here & Queer.
Bruce LaBruce on the set of Here & Queer. (CBC Arts)

Here & Queer is an interview series hosted by Peter Knegt that celebrates and amplifies the work of LGBTQ artists through unfiltered conversations.

The working title of legendary Canadian queer artist Bruce LaBruce's latest film was Twincest.

"That was a hard sell at Telefilm," LaBruce laughs.

LaBruce came up with the new and final title, Saint-Narcisse, which helped lead it to be successfully funded not only by Telefilm Canada but the folks at CBC Films. It also helped eventually lead him to the set of Here & Queer, where he talked about both Saint-Narcisse and the wildly influential 30-year career that led to it. Watch the episode below:

Anchored in the Greek myth of Narcissus, Saint-Narcisse is set in 1970s Quebec and follows two more impossibly attractive young men (both played by the same actor, Félix-Antoine Duval) who discover they are identical twins separated at birth. One is in the midst of getting to know his long-lost mother, the other is trapped in an abusive gay convent, and when they finally meet, self-obsessed sparks fly.

"The new narcissism really kind of needed to be addressed," LaBruce says of the 2020 film. "The two twins are raised, one in the city and one in a monastery. And then one in the city, Dominic, he is constantly taking Polaroids of himself and he doesn't really know why he's so self-obsessed. And it's because he has this twin, which he finds out later. But when they meet, they look at each other as if it's in a mirror. And they end up having sex with each other."

Two men kiss in a scene from Bruce LaBruce's Saint-Narcisse
A scene from Bruce LaBruce's Saint-Narcisse. (MUBI)

The film is hardly the first time LaBruce has tackled taboo subject matter. An active member of the local Toronto punk scene of the 1980s, he first got involved with experimental filmmaking when he started shooting Super 8 movies that documented his circle's subversive lifestyles and radical takes on sexuality. That would lead to his debut feature film, 1991's No Skin Off My Ass. Made for just $14,000, the (very) sexually explicit film played film festivals all around the world and catapulted LaBruce to icon status in the queer film world. Kurt Cobain even declared No Skin Off My Ass his favourite film.

Over three decades later, LaBruce is still causing as much trouble as ever, though he thinks Saint-Narcisse offers a more relatable subject matter than most people might think.

"You know, my films are always about taboos and fetishes," he says. "But with this one, most people can understand the attraction if they meet somebody face to face who looks like exactly like then. And especially if they have any narcissistic tendencies, it makes perfect sense that they're going to be attracted to each other."

Saint-Narcisse is available to stream on MUBI and CBC Gem.


Peter Knegt (he/him) is a writer, producer and host for CBC Arts. He writes the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and hosts and produces the talk series Here & Queer. He's also spearheaded the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag, variety special Queer Pride Inside, and interactive projects Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Knegt four Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films, the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights and the host of the monthly film series Queer Cinema Club at Toronto's Paradise Theatre. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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