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Cannes Winner Embroiled in Debate over Censorship

Published: June 18, 2014 (Issue # 1816)



  • Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, stars of "Blue Is the Warmest Color," at the Cannes Film Festival.
    Photo: JJ Georges / Wikicommons

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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Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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