Watch: LGBTQ Film About Skinheads Banned from Moscow Film Festival

Friday April 30, 2021
Originally published on April 29, 2021

A still from "The Fans"
A still from "The Fans"  

The Russian website Gazeta.ru reported that a short LGBTQ-themed film was dropped without explanation from the Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) shortly before its scheduled screening.

"'The Fans' - a gritty short about two skinheads who kill gay men while in a sexual relationship with each other - was originally scheduled to screen at the festival on 23 April," Attitude Magazine wrote. "However, the film was dropped at the last minute with no explanation provided, claims director Seva Galkin."

Irina Pavlova, the curator of the program, told the Russian news site Gazeta.ru, that the 25-minute film was included in the list by mistake. She added that she did not "fight" for its inclusion because she did not consider the e film "a masterpiece of all times and peoples."

A still from "The Fans"  (Source: Vimeo)

"'The Fans' is inspired by real facts and tells the complex relationship between two young skinheads who take pleasure in murdering homosexuals while sleeping together in private," reported the French website TÊTU.

"Besides the LGBT theme, the film raises questions about the crisis of masculinity, social division, the conservative ideology and political misinformation in Russia, Galkin told Attitude. "In total, this cocktail of questions scared the organizers of the MIFF. Everything about actual politics and modern Russia scares the cowardly programme directors."

Galkin said he was contacted by the programmer who had scheduled the out-of-competition screening that his film had been cut, telling him it wasn't their decision. "They immediately offered to organise a screening of the film in a bookstore in Moscow outside the MIFF program," he explained. "In addition, I received two more offers to organize showings. So instead of once, the film will be shown three times in Moscow. And also, in St. Petersburg and in Nizhny Novgorod."

Attitude reported that organizers told local outlets the screening was cancelled due to "obscene language". "Russia's federal law 'for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values', also known as the 'gay propaganda law', was enacted in 2013. It essentially bans the promotion of anything casting being LGBTQ in a positive light and was inspired by a similar British law enacted by late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher."

Galkin told Gazeta.Ru that he faced "threats" from fans of the football team Spartak after media reports of the cancellation spread on sports media. In the film, one of the protagonists has a tattoo of the Spartak logo and there are posters of a sports club are hung on the walls of the apartment. According to Galkin, they were upset that two of the titular characters in the film were gay. "Perhaps everyone is misled by the name," says Galkin. He added that the threats ceased after he explained his film is based on a true story.

"In 2016, two young men were arrested for the murder of six men in parks," Gazeta.ru reports. "They considered themselves to be skinheads, and also supported the football teams Spartak and CSKA . According to the investigation, young people met in the parks bystanders who, in their opinion, resembled gays, killed them and then robbed them. At the same time, as Life.ru wrote with reference to a law enforcement source, one of the criminals admitted during interrogation that they had a romantic relationship with a friend."

The film can also be viewed on Vimeo for $1.99. Watch the trailer below:


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