Short film programme Notes from the Underground to explore LGBT life in Russia
The Glasgow Short Film Festival event will feature films from Milena Chernyavskaya and Seva Galkin
A one-off event during the Glasgow Short Film Festival, Notes from the Underground: Queer Russian Cinema is part of the New Cinema 4 project, curated by Marc David Jacobs of Edinburgh Film Guild. Examining the current state of LGBT cinema, Jacobs has unearthed rarely seen work, not least because of strict laws about the portrayal of homosexuality in Russia.
‘Because of the new legislation passed in Russia, one of the challenges for me was to actually find the stuff,’ says Jacobs. ‘We managed to get Stephen Fry to retweet our search, which helped. Film is a great medium for understanding how people see the world, and we’ve been able to put together a collection of films that show how the LGBT community in Russia live.’
The films chosen document everyday life and situations in Russia. ‘“Three Times About It”, by Russian photographer Seva Galkin, is about a gay Russian athlete, and “The Beginning” is written and co-produced by Milena Chernyavskaya who founded Russia’s only glossy lesbian magazine Agens, which was quickly shut down. These stories provide a brief but illuminating snapshot of LBGT life in Russia.’
With the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Pussy Riot released, and Elton John decrying the current LGBT situation, the eyes of the world are firmly fixed on Russia. Even screenings of Cannes-winner Blue is the Warmest Colour have been problematic, with politician Vitaly Milonov accused of trying to smuggle underage teenagers into screenings at the annual Bok o Bok festival, in order to endanger the LGBT festival’s licence.
‘I think Russian filmmakers know that depicting their lives on-screen can reach an international audience, despite the difficulties of screening these films on their home territory,’ says Jacobs. ‘Many of the films are hard to see in Russia, and I hope that this programme will help bring them to a wider audience.’
CCA, Glasgow, Fri 14 Feb.