Antigay protesters disrupted the premiere screening of a documentary on Russian LGBT teens Wednesday night in Moscow, decrying “Western depravity” and demanding to know if any minors where present, but in the end the show went on.
About 20 minutes into the screening of Children 404 at the Moscow ArtPlay Centre, the protesters, who were already in the audience, made their presence known, reports Gay Star News. They carried signs with slogans such as “Get Sodomy Out of Russia” and “Western Depravity Must End,” and some wore ribbons with religious iconography.
The film was interrupted while police checked the identification of attendees, as the protesters claimed minors were in the audience. Under Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, providing any positive information about LGBT people to minors is prohibited. It turned out no minors were present, so no law was broken.
The film resumed, and a discussion period followed, according to Colta, an arts group that backed the movie, along with the Heinrich Boell Foundation. The audience offered “cheerful resistance” to the antigay demonstrators, notes Colta’s website, which describes the disrupters as “professional trolls.”
Children 404, from producer-directors Pavel Loparev and Askold Kurov, takes its name from an online support group for LGBT teens and features 45 of them as they go about their lives in the homophobic environment of Russia. The use of “404” in the group’s name refers to the “page not found” error code on the Internet, suggesting that LGBT youth in Russia have been rendered invisible by the nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda. “The law states that it protects minor children under the age of 18, but of course no one has asked those under 18 for their opinion,” says journalist Elena Klimova, the group’s founder, in the film.
People outside of Russia will soon have a chance to see Children 404, as it will have its international premiere Monday at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto. It will be screened three more times during the festival, which is offering several other films of LGBT interest as well. Find more about the fest here, and a Maclean’s magazine review of Children 404 here.