I am so pleased with the turnout, audience reception, participation and conversation for the first Troy Bordun Visiting Canadian Filmmaker.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Trent Film Society, Traill College, Canadian studies and the Frost Centre, English, cultural studies, gender and women’s studies, Trent Graduate Student Association, Trent Queer Collective, Peterborough Pride and BE Catering, I was able to bring internationally renowned filmmaker Bruce LaBruce to Peterborough.
On Feb. 25, several of us began at BE Catering for a delicious dinner. We then held a screening of LaBruce’s newest feature film Gerontophilia (2013) at Market Hall, and Dr. Ger Zielinski (Researcher at the Frost Centre) facilitated a Q&A with the director.
To end the night we headed to Catalina’s and The Barbeside for a screening of a few of LaBruce’s short films as well as some conversation.
The next morning LaBruce hosted a seminar at Traill College. The visit was capped with another fantastic meal, this time courtesy of The Trend. The screening and seminar were extremely engaging and audiences hopefully learned much about Gerontophilia and LaBruce’s decades-long career.
What started as a series of fun filmmaking projects in the late 1980s has now grown to mainstream proportions with Gerontophilia. During the post-film Q&A, LaBruce described his desire to work in the mainstream while also maintaining themes he has been exploring throughout his oeuvre, such as homosexual desire, fetishes and anti-sexual identity politics.
Gerontophilia explores homosexuality through sexual fluidity rather than gay identity.
He defines Gerontophilia as “Lolita in reverse.” By definition the title of the film would be the love of old persons. This is precisely 18-year-old Lake’s (Pierre-Gabriel Lajoie) fetish.
In this genre film, a romantic comedy unfolds as Lake begins a relationship with 82-year-old Melvyn Peabody.
The multifaceted Walter Borden – recipient of the Order of Canada, a former Black Panther, a long-time gay activist and performer at Stratford – gives a charming performance as Mr. Peabody and develops a touching onscreen, and off-screen, relationship with Lajoie.
LaBruce stated in addition to wanting to work in the mainstream, he thought to also make a distinctly Canadian film.
Gerontophilia transparently takes place in the streets of Montreal and at various locales in Niagara Falls.
The characters are also superbly Canadian: Lake is a young French-Canadian, his mom is hilarious Quebecois and his girlfriend is likely a caricature of a leftist Ontario young adult trying to make it in the arty city of Montreal.
LaBruce mentioned that Gerontophilia has had both critical and box office success outside of Canada, particularly in France. This may be because the film is partially in French and also deals with taboo subject matter; French cinema is not shy of sexual taboos.
Moreover, Gerontophilia is distributed in a number of other countries and is available on Netflix (and our local library – go check it out).
On Friday morning LaBruce presented clips for discussion from a number of works made in the 21st century. He was wonderfully selective with clips from The Raspberry Reich (2004), Otto (2008, his first gay zombie film) and a recent short film based on one of his theatrical productions in Germany, The Bad Breast.
Further, at the seminar LaBruce had the opportunity to discuss his practice and his politics. There were conversations about psychoanalysis, homosexuality, bisexuality and revolutionary politics.
The director discussed his undergraduate studies and Masters Studies and their respective influence on his work, film criticism and reception, feminism and transgender issues, and zombies and sexuality, among many other topics.
The seminar ended with LaBruce’s future plans.
In April he heads to Berlin to make an underground film. This fictional work turns the director away from his usual focus on men.
The new film tells the story of “lesbian separatist essentialist terrorists.” The film is entitled The Misandrist.
These fictional women engage with second-wave feminism and envision a utopia without men. A straight, leftist radical man then accidentally infiltrates their group. The film will continue to pursue politics and sexuality in line with other films in LaBruce’s oeuvre.
On the other hand, LaBruce confessed how scary it will be to make a movie about feminism. He has good intentions though, but like any artwork, the film will be subject to criticism.
LaBruce will work alongside feminist friends to produce the best film possible.
Visit trentarthur.ca for excerpts of the seminar.