Gay zombie porn gets festival flick
By PAUL KALINA
July 21, 2010
THE Australian censor has banned a film from screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival for the first time in seven years - a work described as ''gay zombie porn''.
Festival director Richard Moore received a letter yesterday from the Film Classification Board director Donald McDonald, stating that L.A. Zombie, the latest offering from Canadian provocateur Bruce LaBruce, could not be screened as it would in his opinion be refused classification.
The festival is not generally required to submit films for classification, but after reading a synopsis of the plot of L.A. Zombie, which features wound penetration and implied sex with corpses, the Classification Board requested a DVD to watch, and then refused to issue an exemption. It is the first film to be banned from the Melbourne International Film Festival since Larry Clark's Ken Park in 2003.
McDonald's letter says the decision to ban the film is based ''on information submitted by MIFF, inspection of the film and the classification history of the director''.
Described by Moore as a ''video art zombie film'', L.A. Zombie is to have its world premiere next week at Locarno, Switzerland. The Melbourne film festival would have been its second-only public screening.
The MIFF program describes the film as ''an adventure in cinema's most unmarketable subgenre - gay zombie porn'' and points out the ''schlock'' nature of LaBruce's deliberately B-grade and arty approach. The program also carries a warning about offensive content.
The film follows an alien zombie who roams the streets of Los Angeles in search of dead bodies and gay sex - an activity that reveals a gift of ''shagging'' the deceased back to life.
There are full-frontal nude scenes and erect penises. The zombies have cucumber-shaped penises which are clearly prosthetic.
Moore yesterday told The Age: ''Bruce LaBruce's blend of sex and violence can be confronting, but I would argue that within the context of the festival, it is nonsensical and patronising to not allow people to decide what they want to see.''
The film was scheduled for two screenings during the festival's closing weekend.
Moore said that the festival had yet to decide if it would appeal the decision, which he estimated would cost $2000.
The Classification Board director was unavailable for comment on the matter.
Bruce LaBruce's previous film, Otto; Or, Up With Dead People, screened at MIFF two years ago and many of his other films have screened at festivals in Australia.
He was a guest of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2004 with The Raspberry Reich.
An early LaBruce film, Hustler White, was refused classification in 1997, but was later given an R rating after a scene was cut.
In a media release marking the start of production on L.A. Zombies in May last year, LaBruce said: ''Not unpretentiously, I consider myself not so much a pornographer, as an artist who works in porn.''
Zombie porn director 'delighted' by ban
By MICHELLE GRIFFIN
July 21, 2010
The director of gay zombie porn film LA Zombie says he is delighted his movie was banned.
‘‘My first thought was ‘Eureka!’’’ director Bruce LaBruce said, speaking from his home in Toronto.
‘‘I’ll never understand how censors don’t see that the more they try to suppress a film, the more people will want to see it. It gives me a profile I didn’t have yesterday.’’
'Eureka!' ... LA Zombie director Bruce LaBruce has thanked the censorship authority.
Mr LaBruce says the Australian classification board should have allowed LA Zombie to screen at the Melbourne International Film Festival because of its ‘‘artistic merit’’.
Festival director Richard Moore received a letter yesterday from the Film Classification Board director Donald McDonald, stating that L.A. Zombie could not be screened as it would in his opinion be refused classification.
‘‘My film is debuting at Locarno in competition, it’s a prestigious festival. So it’s self evident it has artistic merit and most censorship boards take that into account. I’m surprised [the Australian classification board] didn’t take it into consideration, if they knew.’’
'Positive message' ... LaBruce says his film is a metaphor for healing because people are brought back to life.
Made for ‘‘less than $US100,000’’ in Los Angeles last year, LA Zombie was devised as ‘‘a reaction against torture porn’’ says La Bruce. ‘‘People come back to life [in my film], it’s a metaphor for healing.’’
He called the classification board ‘‘hypocritical’’ for banning his film while ‘‘they pass so many mainstream films that have the most extreme violence, with brutal treatment towards women, and torture and dismemberment, but because they didn’t show a penis, they can be screened with impunity.’’
LaBruce admitted that his film did have explicit scenes of sex and violence, but said the version that was banned from the festival was a ‘‘soft core’’ version, where ‘‘it’s obviously a fake prosthetic. It’s a bizarre-looking thing with a scorpion’s stinger, it’s clearly not a human penis.’’
Film festival director Richard Moore said the festival has not yet decided if it will appeal against the ban, but LaBruce has already started a twitter and Facebook campaign urging Australians to protest the classification board’s decision. It is not yet known if the board’s decision to refuse to give LA Zombie an exemption from classification (so that it could be shown at festivals) will automatically mean that it will be refused classification as an R 18+ or X18+ DVD.
This is not the first time LaBruce’s films have been banned. Singapore has blocked several attempts by film festivals to screen his films, the British censors have insisted on the removal of scenes and segments from several of his films over the past two decades, before they could be released on DVD, and in Japan, his DVDs are distributed with a black dot hovering over the more graphic sex scenes.
The director denied he’d deliberately sought censorship when making LA Zombie, which features gaping wounds, corpses, and several [faked] body fluids in close-up detail.
‘‘I wasn’t expecting it with this one,’’ he said. ‘‘My film Otto screened in Melbourne and that also had a zombie penetrating another zombie.’’