Russian Culture Ministry Denies Plans to Ban Movie Featuring Gay Romance

"Winter Way" will be released with an 18+ age restriction, which exempts it from the recent Russian law banning the showing of all "gay content" to minors.

MOSCOW -- Russia’s culture ministry has denied earlier reports that it could strip the feature film Zimni Put (Winter Way) of its exhibition license because of its gay content.

Vladislav Telnov, head of the ministry’s cinema department, was quoted by as saying that the film is to receive an “18+” rating but its exhibition license won’t be revoked.

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“No one is going to ban the film or cancel its exhibition license,” he was quoted as saying.

On Aug. 20, the movie’s producer Mikhail Karasev said Winter Way was facing problems with its exhibition license.

Premiered at the Russian film festival Okno v Yevropu (Window into Europe) earlier this month, the film comes as a directorial debut by theater actors Sergei Taramayev and Lyubov Lvova. The story is centered on mutual attraction between two young men who are unlikely companions -- a Moscow student of music and a provincial hoodlum who arrives in the city.

At the festival, Yevgeny Tkachuk, who played one of the leads, picked up the best actor award, while the movie also collected the film critics’ guild’s award.

Under the recently adopted law “on gay propaganda among minors,” all films and television programs featuring homosexual content could potentially be banned unless they aren't shown to people under 18 and are labeled "18+."