Bruce LaBruce

Military Pride: Bruce LaBruce screens The Sergeant at Queer View Festival

With Toronto Pride Week in full swing over the next few days/weeks, the Bloor Cinema is set celebrate by screening a very mixed bag of gay- and lesbian-themed films. Queer View, wherein a select group of queer artists pick movies and then show up to introduce them (and maybe do a Q&A), runs from Sunday, June 21st to Thursday, June 25th.

The series will showcase some pretty solid and entertaining films like the coming-of-age in the 60s and 70s Québec drama C.R.A.Z.Y. presented by Degrassi star Adamo Ruggiero, and the lesbian crime flick Bound, handpicked by Notorious Bettie Page screenwriter Guinevere Turner.

Bruce LaBruce - whose latest gay art porn zombie movie Otto; or, Up with Dead People screened at Sundance and at the MoMA in New York last year - digs deep into Hollywood's closet for his Queer View selections, Windows and The Sergeant. I checked in with LaBruce to find out more about his programming choices, his Pride plans, and the possibility of an upcoming Toronto-based film.

You¹ve described your selections for this screening series as 'superhomophobic'. What is it about Windows and The Sergeant that we need to see?

There's always been a tendency to treat movies or novels or other cultural artifacts that represent homosexuals in a perhaps unflattering or clichéd or unsavoury light as things to be avoided or suppressed. I've always thought this kind of denial is actually much more dangerous for several reasons. Firstly, if you suppress things you give them more power, and they will most likely come back to haunt you. Secondly, it can be a case of know your "enemy": if you really examine the sometimes ridiculous, sometimes offensive way the straight world perceives gays (or lesbians or transexuals or bisexuals), you're in a more powerful position to fight back or negotiate or laugh, however you want to respond. Lastly, there is a certain glamour in these outsider homosexual characters who have been driven to extremes of behaviour by the repressive or confining nature of the mainstream. After all, the psycho is usually the most interesting and entertaining character in the picture!

If you were curating the entire Queer View programme, what else would you choose to screen?

I would choose films by directors who are/were gay but whose movies do not necessarily always have gay content - Fassbinder, Murnau, Minnelli, Whale, etc. I would choose films with small but pivotal gay scenes or characters (Rachel, Rachel, Last Summer, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams, Inside Daisy Clover, Scarecrow, etc.). I would choose films with main characters who are heavily coded as gay even though they might not literally be presented as such (Again Scarecrow, Strangers on a Train, Pretty Poison, Lord Love a Duck, etc.). I would choose a lot more horror films, because most of them are based on homosexual panic of some kind.

Do you have plans to celebrate Pride Week?

I'm more into the Shame movement, but even it has become too commercial. Aside from my Windows/The Sergeant screenings and party, I will probably stay at home and have a glass of champagne. My husband always does the parade though. He's Cuban.

What have you been working on in LA?

I'm working on a hardcore gay splatter horror alien zombie porn type movie starring Francois Sagat and featuring some other of the biggest names in the porn industry.

I tend to think of you as a Toronto-based filmmaker, but you shoot most of your movies and photos elsewhere. What keeps you here?

I do shoot photos here sometimes. I just shot the new Gareth Pugh line for Purple Magazine here in Toronto. The stylist, Francesca Burns, came over from London, to style it. I initially left town two steps ahead of being tarred and feathered. Also I couldn't get any funding. But now I'm starting to get funded in Canada. I am writing a new script that is set in Toronto. Or Hamilton.

Windows and The Sergeant are on screen Sunday, June 21st at the Bloor Cinema, followed by an after-party at Goodhandy's. Queer View advance tickets and schedule available online. LaBruce photo by Maria Fonfara.

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