There are some directors who can convince an actor to do almost anything. When shooting his new film, Weekend in Alphaville, last fall, art-porn auteur extraordinaire Bruce LaBruce convinced his performers to strip to their skivvies, douse themselves in fake blood and perform on a windswept Saskatchewan highway in minus-23-degree weather. “They could only do one take at a time because it was so cold,” he says from Berlin, where he’s currently working. “I’ve endured lots of impossible situations while making films, but you always struggle through.”
Created in collaboration with Regina artists Edward Poitras and Robin Poitras, Weekend in Alphaville is a short dance film, originally presented as part of a performance installation at Regina’s Neutral Ground Gallery last November. The piece pays homage to French director Jean-Luc Godard’s films Weekend and Alphaville, filtered through the spiritual planes of the Canadian prairies.
That all sounds delightfully heady. But, of course, the question on everyone’s mind is what freaky sexual taboo LaBruce will break next.
“It is not a sexually explicit film, but it’s definitely sexy,” he says. “It features two ladies dancing in skimpy slips and fur coats drenched in fake blood. It’s a kind of companion piece to LA Zombie.”
LaBruce’s last art-porn pic caused quite a stir when it premiered this past summer. Starring ink-scalped French pornstar François Sagat, LA Zombie tells the story of a libidinous member of the undead who roams the City of Angels reanimating corpses with his life-giving cock. But the sight of the hunky TitanMen star, painted blue with a mouth full of bloody fangs, fucking dead bodies till they come back to life was too much for some. The film was banned in Australia in July, just before its world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
“I was disappointed because my last film, Otto; or, Up with Dead People, played there a couple of years ago and was really popular,” LaBruce says. “But the censorship led to a wave of international publicity, extending to mainstream media outlets like the Huffington Post and the Drudge Report. For a micro-budget film, you can’t really ask for better exposure.”
The film eventually premiered a month later in Switzerland, and the continued buzz has kept it splattering screens with blood and semen in equal measure ever since, including a stop at TIFF last September.
“I think it’s been so controversial because of the necrophilia aspect,” LaBruce says. “But that’s totally unfair. It’s a zombie who has sex with people in order to bring them back to life. It’s necrophiliacal at the beginning of the scene, but by the end the person is alive, so it’s not anymore.”
Censorship is nothing new for the award-winning director, whose films have also been banned at the Singapore International Film Festival several times. He even had picketers turn up to the 1999 screening of his controversial skinhead-themed porno Skin Flick when it played the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, England.
“The authorities think if sex wasn’t regulated, everyone would constantly be having orgies on the street, thereby slowing down the progress of culture,” he says. “But the use of violence and torture as mass entertainment is far more harmful. It’s clearly used as a sublimation of sex, but because genitalia aren’t shown it’s considered suitable for popular consumption.”