25th Raindance Film Festival
When a young man, a radical leftist, who is running from the police, happens upon this remote female stronghold, one of the girls takes pity on him and hides him in the basement. His presence eventually disrupts the household and reveals a number of unexpected secrets, as the film moves towards its climax: the revelation of a new style of lesbian porn that is to be used as both propaganda tool and calling card for their new brand of female revolution.
Hi Bruce, great to talk with you again, I see you've been busy?
Yes, I've been touring with The Misandrists this summer, and also shooting a new project, so it has been busy. I wrote The Misandrists last year in December/January and we shot last April, and then it premiered at the Berlinale this past February, so it has been a quick and intense process. I wrote two other screenplays in 2015, so I have a couple of projects on deck as well.
What does it mean to be able to scream The Misandrists at the 25th Raindance Film Festival?
To scream The Misandrists? I love it. It is kind of a scream. It's really gratifying because The Misandrists is apparently a difficult film for some people. It has been playing at a lot of really great international film festivals that play arthouse and independent films (from the Istanbul International Film Festival to BAFICI to Karlovy Vary to Motovun in Croatia to New Horizons in Poland, etc.), but it has been rejected by the major LGBTQI fests in Canada and the US for politically correct reasons. So to have a high profile UK and London premier means a lot to me.
What goes through your mind when you complete a film?
When I complete the shooting of a film it feels amazing because you're exhausted (especially if it's a low-budget guerilla-style film), but there's a great feeling of accomplishment, and you feel like you really got away with something!
But when the film is completely finished, after post-production and the world premiere, there is a big let-down, akin to postpartum depression. You've spent so much of your time and blood sweat and tears on the project, something that you've been focussed on for a year or sometimes years, and then it's gone. But it doesn't last too long, and then you go on to the next one!
Do you get butterflies or nerves when you share a new film with an audience for the first time?
When I started showing my films at international festivals back in the early nineties, I would have extreme anxiety before showing a film, and as a hell-raising punk of sorts, I would sometimes be close to drunk when I presented them, which I'm sure wasn't a good look! But over the years I've gotten used to it, and I've even got to enjoy it. However, my films are usually pretty hot-button, taking on a taboo subject matter and often sexually explicit, so there's always a bit of an expectation that there will be some hostility or backlash. But now I even enjoy taking that on in Q&A's!
What has been the most memorable reaction you've gotten for one of your films?
Hmm. Well, it's either when I had the world premiere of my movie Hustler White at a midnight screening at Sundance in 1996 and after the amputee stumping scene a third of the audience walked out, or when I premiered Skin Flick, my art/porn film about neo-Nazis, at the ICA in London and there were picketers outside and the first question of the Q&A was a black man who said "I just want to say your film is racist, and you are a racist" before walking out of the theatre. (BTW we went on to have a really good hour-long discussion after that.)
Tell me a little bit about your latest film The Misandrists, how did the film come about?
The Misandrists is a loose sequel or companion piece to my 2005 film The Raspberry Reich. In that film, I explored the paradoxes of the radical left in terms of homosexual revolution, but I would run into lesbians who were disappointed that I didn't include a dyke angle. So I wanted to redress that. Also, I've made a number of films with all-male or almost all-male casts (largely because my films have often by financed by gay porn companies), so I thought it was time with work with an almost all-female cast. It was a great experience.
"A secret cell of feminist terrorists is planning to liberate women, overthrow the patriarchy, and usher in a new female world order. The group is led by Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse), who operates a school for wayward girls in the countryside as a front for a radical terroristic cell."
What was the inspiration behind this film?
The Misandrists is both a critique of certain styles of radical feminism, but also a complete embrace of feminism on other levels. I've also been influenced in my life and career by very strong, radical female figures, so I always have those kinds of characters in my movies.
The last time we spoke you said you wanted to make a film that 'passed the Bechdel Test', do you think you have achieved this with The Misandrists?
Well, yes! There are a number of scenes in The Misandrists in which women talk to each other without mentioning men. And when they do talk about men, it's usually about ripping their hearts out of their chests!
How did you get into filmmaking, has it always been a passion you've had?
I majored in Film Theory at university, intending to be a film critic. But I became disillusioned with academia, so I started making super 8 films in the punk and alternative art scenes in Toronto. One thing led to another.
Since your debut film Boy/Girl, how has your approach to filmmaking changed?
Not much has changed really! I still have the same stylistic and aesthetic sensibility, and I still deal with the themes of the outsider, the fetishist, the marginalized, and the sexually divergent. Sometimes I have more money, sometimes I have less. Lately, I've been experimenting with more traditional narrative styles of films.
"...my films might hopefully be enlightening for them."
Looking back is there anything you'd have done differently on your films?
Of course, I would have liked certain things to be better, but sometimes the flaws or obstacles that you encounter make the work more interesting. I see it all as part of the process.
What themes do you follow with your work?
I also quite often make films about the oppressed becoming the oppressor.
What are you currently working on?
I recently shot four short films with interrelated themes as a kind of omnibus film for the US porn company Cockyboys. They are art/porn films that will be released as a feature-length package. Otherwise, I have a big solo show of my photographs and videos coming up on October 27th in London. And I have a feature script, whose working title is "Twincest", that a producer is now shopping around.
As a young filmmaker, what advice do you wish you had been given about the industry?
Patience and longevity.
Finally, what do you want people to take away from your work?
I like to make films that no one else is making. Something completely different. If people have never thought of or considered a different point of view about sexual politics, or an unpopular and polemical philosophy of homosexuality, then my films might hopefully be enlightening for them.