Monday, September 9, 2013

Director Profile: Bruce LaBruce (GERONTOPHILIA)

"People going to see a Bruce LaBruce film [are] under no illusions," he said. They know they're not going to go and see Bambi or Fantasia."
--Melbourne International Festival Director Richard Moore
Bruce LaBruce has a new film, Gerontophilia, screening at this year's Toronto International Film Festival's Vanguard Programme. But who is Bruce LaBruce?

To start, he's a Toronto-based writer, director, photographer, and artist who studied film at York University. In the '80s, he co-edited a fanzine called J.D.'s. It only had eight issues, but was hugely influential. This zine is often credited with starting the queercore movement: an outgrowth of the punk and hardcore movement, which rebels against society's condemnation of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender movement. It also promoted a confrontational, aggressive stance against what it saw as gay "orthodoxy."

LaBruce has been influenced by the gritty, independent 1970s dramas of Robert Altman and John Cassavetes as well as Jerry Schatzberg (The Panic in Needle Park) and Frank Perry (David and Lisa). As a result, he made several experimental, Super 8 short films like I Know What It's Like To Be Dead and Give A Piece of Ass a Chance, and later, full-length films like No Skin Off My Ass (which Kurt Cobain once proclaimed his favorite film), Super 8 ½ and Hustler White

Both 2004's The Raspberry Reich and 2008's Otto, or, Up With Dead People debuted at Sundance, while his 2010 film L.A. Zombie was banned in Australia. Many of LaBruce's films have played at festivals worldwide and he's been honored with several festival retrospectives and a screening at MoMa (for Otto).

Here’s a fun video of a 2008 Bruce LaBruce retrospective that took place at The Royal in Toronto.

As you can probably tell from the titles of the films, LaBruce's films often include sexually explicit and pornographic scenes, but also eschew standard narratives and mainstream film techniques, embracing radical leftist, anti-capitalist ideas instead. He also rails against the way irony has been co-opted by the mainstream. At times, his films can be quite violent, but LaBruce admits he's more enamored of the "aesthetics of violence" than "excessive, indiscriminate" violence of mainstream cinema.

But wait, that's not all! Bruce LaBruce has also written and photographed for an impressively diverse list of publications from local (Exclaim!, eye weekly, Toronto Life, The National Post) to international (The Guardian, Vice, Nerve, index, BlackBook) to porn (Butt, Kink, Jack, and Slurp—amazing titles!). 

Now LaBruce's latest film, Gerontophilia, is screening at the Festival. In a recent interview on The Quietus, LaBruce said, laughing, "In some ways, I was trying to make it like an after-school special directed by Ingmar Bergman." Check out Gerontophilia and see for yourself.

GERONTOPHILIA Screening Times:
Monday, Sept 9th, 10:30 PM THE BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
Wednesday, Sept 11th, 9:30 PM SCOTIABANK 11
Friday, Sept 13th, 12:15 PM SCOTIABANK 3

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