LaBruce film banned in Australia

The latest film by Toronto filmmaker Bruce LaBruce has been pulled from its slated screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival after the Australian classification board reviewed the film and censored it.

Bruce LaBruce shooting in LA

This is the first film Australia’s classification board has banned from the festival since Larry Clark’s Ken Park (2002), which depicted teenagers having sex and graphic violence. What apparently upset censors was the depiction of necrophilia in LaBruce’s film. Titled L.A. Zombie, it’s a sequel to LaBruce’s last film, Otto; or, Up With Dead People, which screened at Sundance.

While censorship might not seem a good thing, LaBruce sees a silver lining. ‘Eureka! By censoring my film, the Australian classification board is complicit in a promotional campaign. Everyone knows that as soon as you ban something you’re giving it way more publicity than it would otherwise have. Now everyone wants to see what was so offensive.’

LaBruce says the censorship is entirely hypocritical, given that films like the Saw and Hostel series have screened in Australia with no problems at all. ‘Those films have women being killed very graphically, and the classification board had no issue with that.’

And the irony is a rich one for LaBruce: as with many of his films, he shot two versions of L.A. Zombie, one a hardcore version, the other a more toned-down, festival-friendly version. The latter is what the classification board banned. ‘I hate to think what they would have done if they’d seen the hardcore version,’ he says. ‘I probably would have been sent into the outback.’

The low-budget L.A. Zombie ($100,000), which stars porn actor Francois Sagat, will have its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival later this month and its North American debut at TIFF in September.