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Russia’s Arthouse Pushes Ahead with ‘Pride’ Theatrical Release Despite Anti-Gay Laws

LONDON — Arthouse, a leading Russian distributor of foreign and independent films, has pushed ahead with the release of British LGBT-themed comedy-drama “Pride” in Russia, despite the country’s anti-gay laws.

Matthew Warchus’ “Pride,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, tells the true story of U.K. gay activists who worked to help miners during their lengthy strike in the summer of 1984.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but in recent years the legal situation for LGBT people has moved backwards in the country. In 2012 Moscow Pride was banned for 100 years by the city courts, and in 2013, President Vladimir Putin outlawed “propaganda” that promoted “nontraditional sexual relations” to children.

This law, which is said to “protect” kids, is vague, but with regards to cinema, it means that any advertising for a film dealing with LGBT themes must carry an “18+” logo, and only adults can watch the pic. Religious extremists and right-wing groups have sent teens under 18 to see these movies so that a prosecution can be brought, so theater owners have to check IDs.

Despite this, films with LGBT themes, such as “Pride” and “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” continue to be distributed. Arthouse was co-founded by CEO Yan Vizinberg, president Sam Klebanov and Abigail Honor in March. Klebanov is the former owner of Russian arthouse movie distributor Cinema without Frontiers, which distributed “Blue Is the Warmest Color.”

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