Supernova Russia

Source: World Pictures

New Russian artwork for ‘Supernova’, including the label

Russian cinemagoers will soon be able to see the full version of Harry Macqueen’s Supernova, following a backlash against a censored version that was released by local distributor World Pictures.

The UK film, which stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as a gay couple, was originally released in Russia last month with three minutes cut from the feature by the distributor, namely a scene in which the married couple unsuccessfully try to have sex. 

But following an outcry from director Macqueen, several Russian film critics and the Russian LGBT community, World Pictures confirmed to Screen that 10 cinemas in Moscow, St Petersburg and beyond will screen the uncensored version from tomorrow (April 8). The censored version will be taken out of circulation. 

These include the KARO Oktober, Five Stars at Novokuznetskaya and Yunost cinemas in Moscow; the KARO Warsaw Express and Rodina cinemas in St Petersburg; and Cinema House in the city of Saratov.

World Pictures excluded the intimate scene when it applied for a distribution license from Russia’s Ministry of Culture.

The censored release led Macqueen to issue a statement to LGBTQ+ magazine The Advocate, which said: “We the filmmakers object in the strongest possible terms to the censorship of Supernova in Russia. It is deeply troubling that the film has been edited without our permission and against our will. We want the film to be shown in its original, unedited form everywhere around the world. While we recognise the pressure the Russian distributors have been put under, we will not tolerate censorship of this nature.”

In addition, the organisers of Russia’s only LGBT film festival, Side by Side, described the distributor’s actions as “highly unprofessional and unethical. Such cowardice and self-censorship by the distributor only reinforces homophobic attitudes in society.”

According to some Russian film critics, the distributor had been afraid cinemas would refuse to show the film in its full version. Moreover, the two leads’ sexual orientation was not mentioned in press materials prepared by World Pictures and critics were asked to avoid using the word “gay” in their reviews of Supernova.

Leading Russian critic Anton Dolin refused to review the shortened version of the film, arguing it would be “impossible to fully analyse and evaluate a film that will be shown to Russian audiences in a stripped-down form. The distributors, World Pictures, have cut (apparently on their own initiative) several minutes from the film that obviously indicate Sam and Tasker’s homosexuality.”

Responding to the criticism at the time, World Pictures stated the film was not about LGBT issues, but about “love, support, the pain of losing a loved one, salvation and freedom of choice”. It subsequently submitted the request for a new distribution license to be issued by the Ministry of Culture for the full version.

Supernova, which premiered at San Sebastian, opened in Russian cinemas on March 11 and had taken $61,452 at the box office from 13,356 cinema-goers up to March 28.