Horror film spotlights anti-gay violence in Russia

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A Russian horror film is planning to show people the harsh realities of homophobic violence throughout the country—but now the film may not even be screened in the place that needs it the most. 

PYOTR495 is a reaction to the increase in violence provoked by Russia’s law against gay “propaganda,” enacted in an attempt to prevent same-sex relationships from being a social norm. President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law in June 2013, making the distribution of materials relating to homosexuality an offense punishable by law. According to the text of the legislation, the motivation behind it was to protect children “from information advocating for a denial of traditional family values.”

Since the law was enacted, there has been an increase in homophobic violence by Russian Neo-Nazi, ultranationalist, and anti-gay groups. In August 2013, an unidentified gay teen was kidnapped, bullied, tortured, and killed by a group of Russian Neo-Nazis; the act was filmed and distributed online. On July 29, 2013, it was reported that during pro-gay demonstrations, violence broke out amongst activists, anti-gay protesters, and the Russian police that led to several injuries. Similarly, on September 1, 2015, Neo-Nazis in Ukraine attacked the offices of an LGBT group, nearly killing one man. 

The Russian government drew criticism from around the globe for having little or no reaction to these events, which were just a few of many. It has yet to punish the anti-gay extremists. 

PYOTR495 follows 16-year-old Pyotr in Moscow, Russia right after the enactment of the LGBT propaganda law. While using a gay dating app, Pyotr is baited by an ultranationalist group known for their violent attacks and abductions bolstered by the propaganda law. Throughout the film, we follow Pyotr as he is tricked into venturing out on his scooter at night, resulting in his being kidnapped, tortured, tormented—and filmed all the while. 

The film illustrates the adversity and hatred against LGBT people in our society today with the blood and gore of a horror film, an unfortunate yet accurate comparison. 

Although principal photography for the film has been completed, the crew behind it is currently holding a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo for post-production.

Watch the trailer below:

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