An Open Letter In Support of The Melbourne Underground Film Festival by Jack Sargeant
November 12, 2010
An Open Letter In Support of The Melbourne Underground Film Festival
Bruce LaBruce is an internationally renowned filmmaker and writer. His works
have screened across the globe: at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the
Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival,
the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and many others. Several of his
films have also screened to appreciative Australian film festival audiences. His
films are readily available to rent and buy, both internationally and nationally,
where many have been released on DVD.
Mixing black comedy, politics, genre, melodrama and porn, LaBruce’s films tell
stories of homosexual desire, of lust and love, all shot through with a low budget,
post-punk aesthetic that pays homage to both underground cinema and
Hollywood classics. He has a dedicated cult fan base and his work is central in
both indie film and contemporary GLBT cinema, a documentary study of
LaBruce’s work is due to premiere at a major European film festival in 2011.
His most recent movie, LA Zombie follows a ‘gay’ ‘zombie’ who, rather than killing
brings the dead back to life by having sex with them. The sex, much of which is
faked, is, behind the ʻshockingʼ concept, gentle and loving. Beneath the stage-
bloodied zombie movie is a tender film about the regenerative powers of sex and
Film fans across the world were surprised when LA Zombie was ʻbannedʼ during
the Melbourne International Film Festival. When the film was subsequently
screened with no police interference to an appreciative audience as part of the
Melbourne Underground Film Festival many praised the event for enabling an
audience to see the work.
It is, then, troubling that Richard Wolstencroft, the director of the Melbourne
Underground Film Festival, had his house raided on 11th November by
detectives searching for a copy of the film. The involvement of Victoria Police and
the threat of legal action simply for screening a film that has already played to
global audiences is deeply disturbing.
The image of the police and courts enforcing censorship is never pretty; when the
target is the work of an internationally famous gay filmmaker it is downright
shameful. The threat of legal action simply for screening a film is part of an
increasingly hysterical response that can only have a detrimental effect to
filmmakers and audiences in Australia.
As filmmakers, film fans, and consenting adults, we roundly condemn the
banning of this film and the possibility of legal action against the director of an
independent film festival.
Dave de Vries