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Iconoclastic British director Peter Greenaway may be forced to make changes to the script for the second of two films about Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein if he wants to ensure cooperation from Russian officials.
Greenaway is relying on help from Russia’s state film fund, Gosfilmofond, for archival material and location shooting in St. Petersburg for The Eisenstein Handshakes.
But the film’s focus on Eisenstein’s reported homosexuality has upset the head of Gosfilmofond, according to media reports.
Elements of the movie, which tells the story of Eisenstein’s fame in the 1920s and 1930s and his worldwide travels to meet the top artists of his day, do not meet Russian expectations, Gosfilmofond boss Nikolai Borodachev said in a radio interview.
Speaking Tuesday on the Echo of Moscow, Borodachev denied earlier reports that he had demanded the removal of references to homosexuality from the film’s script as a condition of the fund’s cooperation. “I do not want to talk about [homosexuality], but this theme just does not suit us,” Borodachev said.
He added: “Greenaway insists that this aspect of the life of Eisenstein is important for the picture. If things don’t work out, we will not engage in the project.” But Borodachev stressed that the Russian side was still on board and not yet ready to quit the project.
Eisenstein was married, but a friend was among those who have said that he was homosexually inclined.
In 2013, Russia adopted a law prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality to minors. Since then, a number of films with homosexual themes have run into problems receiving state funding or distribution licenses.
Greenaway’s film is the second of two that he is shooting about the famous Soviet filmmaker. The first, focusing on Eisenstein’s visit to Mexico in 1931 to consider a project backed by American communist sympathizers, including writer Upton Sinclair, is called Eisenstein in Guanajuato. It premieres in competition next month at the Berlin film festival.
Greenaway couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
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