The London Underground Film Festival kicks off on December 4th at the Horse Hospital, London. I've programmed the screenings on Sunday 5th December, which start with Nude Study at 12:00pm, followed by Anywhere USA at 2:30pm, Words of Advice: WIlliam Burroughs on the Road at 5:00pm and The Family Jams at 8:00pm. These are all great movies and at least three are UK premieres. There's a full website here for the festival, check it out.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Below is a copy of the letter of support and recognition sent to the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, their lawyers and the media last Friday following the raid on the home of the festival director. Several people have subsequently told me that they wanted to sign the letter but in order to respond at speed this letter was written, signed and delivered the day after the raid.I would suggest that people write their own letters of support and send them to the various Melbourne and Australian newspapers.
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 love.
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
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
This piece on 'roughies' was originally published in FilmInk in slightly edited form.
With one foot in the nudie camp movie and one foot firmly placed in the tradition of lowbrow men’s pulp magazines such as Adventure, Man’s Book and New Man, famous for their cover paintings that depicted scantily clad women being tormented by Nazis and / or Commies, the roughies offered cinema audiences hardboiled narratives alongside some sex and a whole lot of violence. These movies presented pure, raw machismo on screen, with women as either weak victims or buxom seductive villainesses (or both). They spun stories of semi-clad brutalised babes and tough guys in tales that were equal parts brutal no-nonsense thrillers and cheesy fantasies spun straight from the darkest confessions to emerge from the analyst’s couch.
There’s invariably some debate about the source of the genre, though Russ Meyer’s Lorna (1964), is commonly considered the first roughie. It features all of the key elements, with the titular Lorna, the sexually unsatisfied wife being raped by an escaped con and finding her libido subsequently unleashed. The results are sex, violence and punishment. But Meyer had his own agenda, and while he directed the excellent Mudhoney! (1965) and Motorpsycho (1965) more often it was the men who were dominated by the women in his movies, most famously in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), and as the decade progressed he turned to the larger than life vividly coloured cartoonish movies for which he is best known.
Other roughie classics include the David Friedman produced Scum of the Earth, directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis (1963) and The Defilers (1965) directed by Lee Frost, as well as Doris Wishman’s Bad Girls Go To Hell (1965). What all of these films share is stories in which women - or ‘girls’ according to the taglines- are humiliated and generally abused by bad men.
Some people may argue that these films wallow in a testosterone filled sleaze pit - like that’s a bad thing - but there’s a joyful pleasure to be had from them. The characters are so much larger than life and there’s an exaggerated male-melodrama at play that is gloriously un-PC. Playing in the grindhouses of the inner city and rural and suburban drive-ins these films found their audiences and made a buck, but mostly they escaped the film historians' grasp. Maybe their dubious pleasures were just too damned low-brow.
As censorship laws loosened-up, and with the growth of hardcore porn, the roughie slid from view, eventually replaced by gory exploitation movies and sex films that catered for the same lascivious tastes, but revelled in depicting it in more graphic detail. The age of the roughie never truly ended – its roots can be seen in numerous films to this day - but the strange and savage charm of the genre in the heyday of the sixties will probably never be equalled.
Notes: examples of men's magazine covers were reproduced in the book It's A Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps by Adam Parfrey published by Feral House, recommended reading. Something Weird Video have released numerous roughies on DVD, including a double bill of Scum of the Earth and The Defilers.