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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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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