A thumbnail profile of a jury president who breaks the mold: Canadian, a photographer, writer, screenwriter and director. Plus a gay rights activist, a courtly provocateur, a music lover and film aficionado, as seen in LaBruce's explicit references to Fellini's universe (Super 8 ½
, his 1993 film), Sunset Boulevard
(in his 1996 Hustler White
, one of his best known films), and genre films (his quirky 2010 L.A. Zombie
). He was Venice Days' guest in 2013, when his romantic melodrama Gerontophilia
was on the lineup, and his films have screened at major festivals like Sundance, the Berlinale, Locarno and Toronto. A controversial artist who never fails to surprise, he goes by the moniker Bruce LaBruce
, and he'll be heading the unconventional jury Venice Days has enlisted to select the winner of the Venice Days Award in 2016.
A jury president of that ilk could only be presiding over this marvelous mixed bag of a jury, with its
promising young engineers, musicians, webmasters, and animators, with a drag performer and a TV expert thrown in, as well as young people working in film and other young talent with different profiles, but all of them in love with the seventh art. In our case, we have twenty-eight of them, with international CVs from every country in the European Union. That's par for the course at Venice Days, which has been handing out its Venice Days Award for three years now, and has been co-promoting the 28 Times Cinema
initiative since 2010, along with the European Parliament's LUX Prize
, Europa Cinemas
"You have to allow a film to break your imagination before you decide what you really think of it," is the original observation of Bianca Ariani, the Italian member of this jury. And jury president LaBruce, who defied Hollywood conventions with his courageous and controversial pictures in the 90s and fielded reactions of all stripes,
now faces the real challenge: getting twenty-eight unknown jurors from wildly different backgrounds to agree. It's almost time to repair to the screening room on the Venice Lido (August 31 to September 10) and let the eleven films in competition "break" his imagination, as he and his team of twenty-eight watch, comment on and pick out the winner of the year.