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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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