American Embassy in Moscow defies Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

Gary Hart August 21, 2015

In what appears as a direct challenge to Russia’s anti-gay laws, a film festival sponsored by the American Embassy in Moscow has added gay-themed movie I am Michael to its lineup of screenings.

I am Michael
I am Michael

The drama, starring Zachary Quinto and James Franco as a gay couple, has been announced as a late addition to the lineup of the Amfest Festival, which runs from September 16-27 in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The American Embassy in Russia is a main sponsor of the festival, which highlights new American independent cinema.

In light of the Russia’s anti-gay laws, which make illegal the promotion to minors of a gay lifestyle and other so-called gay propaganda, the decision to screen I Am Michael appears more of a political, rather than artistic decision by the organisers and backers of Amfest.

The film, tells the true story of a gay activist (Franco), who, after a health scare, “is saved” from his homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor with a girlfriend.

I Am Michael debuted in Sundance this year and was also screened in Berlin.

While Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law does not explicitly ban films with gay content, nor criminalise homosexuality, but any positive depiction of a homosexual lifestyle to those under 18 is now a crime in the country.

Since the Anti-Gay legislation was adopted, LGBT-themed films have been screened at Russian festivals, but screenings have often been disrupted by anti-gay protestors.

British period comedy Pride, which follows a gay rights group in Britain supporting the striking miners in 1984, is currently playing in Russia, the first gay-themed film to hit the country’s movie theaters in two years.