EXCLUSIVE: Festival screening of Yes and Yes [pictured] pulled due to Russia’s new anti-obscenity law.

Russia’s new anti-obscenity law - in effect since July 1 - has forced Vologda’s VOICES Film Festival (July 4-8) to pull its screening of Valeria Gai Germanika’s Yes and Yes, which had been planned for Monday evening [July 7].

The film, which had its European premiere at last week’s Moscow International Film Festival and won four awards including best director and the FIPRESCI Prize, would have had its first screening in Russia outside of Moscow at the Vologda festival.

However, the extensive use of swear words - especially in the opening scenes - mean that the film’s producers at Art Pictures Studio have not been able to obtain a distribution certificate to release the film in Russian cinemas from July 1.

In a last minute decision, a limited release was organised in five Moscow cinemas in the three days leading up to the law coming into effect - from June 28-30 - and resulted in an impressive RUB 1m being taken from these five screens

Yes and Yes has been replaced by a repeat screening of Goodbye Mum, the latest feature by the VOICES jury president Svetlaana Proskurina.

Under the new legislation that was passed in May, films containing “foul language” will be banned from wide release.

The law is meant to ensure “the protection and development of linguistic culture,” according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website, but critics say it is reminiscent of Soviet-era censorship.

This year’s fifth anniversary edition of VOICES (Vologda Independent Cinema from European Screens Festival) has focused on UK cinema, with producer David P. Kelly, directors Uberto Pasolini and Anthony Wilcox among the international guests and NFTS director Nik Powell giving a masterclass on Monday afternoon.

Game of Thrones actor Yuri Kolikolnikov, screenwriter Yuri Korotkov and director Gleb Orlov are visiting the festival on Tuesday [July 8] for the closing ceremony when the film Poddubniy, about a Russian world wrestling champion, will be screened two days before its Russian theatrical release.

Leviathan wins main prize at Munich’s Filmfest

Meanwhile, further west, Russian director Andrey Zyagintsev’s Cannes winner Leviathan picked up the €50,000 ARRI/OSRAM Award as the best film in the CineMasters section at this year’s Filmfest München with the jury describing the work as “a powerful, moving and memorable piece of cinema”.

Other awards in the Bavarian capital included the CineVision Award to Alice Rohrwacher’s La Meraviglie and a special mention to Noaz Deshe’s White Shadow, as well as Audience Awards for Oliver Haffner’s Ein Geschenk der Götter and Neele Leana Vollmar’s Rico, Oskar und die Tieferschatten.