Cannes Winner Embroiled in Debate over Censorship
Published: June 18, 2014 (Issue # 1816)
A collection of erotic lesbian scenes from the critically acclaimed movie "Blue Is the Warmest Color" has been banned in Russia, reigniting fears that the country is edging toward cultural censorship.
Russia's Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor blacklisted a webpage with annotated scenes from the 2013 romantic drama, agency spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky told The St. Petersburg Times on Thursday.
The film by Abdellatif Kechiche, which received the Palme d'Or at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival last year, has been approved for screening in Russia, though the Culture Ministry labeled it with an 18+ tag.
But while the film as a whole constitutes a work of art, an isolated collection of clips featuring the 15-year-old title character having sex with her adult girlfriend qualifies as child pornography, Ampelonsky said.
The actress, Adele Exarchopoulos, was 18 at the time of filming, but that did not deter the watchdog.
"A work of art is entitled to examine various aspects of society, even if they stretch moral boundaries … but sadly, an artwork's integrity usually fractures on the Web," Ampelonsky said.
The watchdog only blacklisted the collection of sex scenes on the web. The ban will not affect the film's distribution in Russia, said Sam Klebanov, the head of the film's distributor, Kino Bez Granits, or "Cinema Without Borders."
Still, he was skeptical of the ban.
"The authorities in Russia operate under the delusion that teenagers know nothing about sex until they hit 18," Klebanov said by telephone.
"And besides, who cares what people fantasize about as long as they are watching movies for adults starring adults?" he asked rhetorically.
The film has already finished its run in Russian movie theaters, but its problems may have only just begun.
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