Russian Distributor Picks Up 'Carol' Despite Law Against "Gay Propaganda"

'Carol,' Wilson Webb

Arthouse is releasing the movie in Russia and admitted doing so would be a "huge challenge" due to federal laws that "victimize the Russian LGBT community."

The distributor Arthouse acquired likely Oscar pick Carol for release in Russia in March 2016.

"Carol is no doubt the main film event of this year, and definitely the most exciting love story to hit the screen recently," said Yan Vizinberg, co-founder and CEO of Arthouse and its US-based parent company Lorem Ipsum Corp. "It’s a dream for everyone at Arthouse to be releasing this film in Russia."

"It’s also a huge challenge because of the federal ‘gay propaganda’ law that victimizes the Russian LGBT community," he added. "Carol is rated R in the U.S., but in Russia the film will certainly be assigned an 18+ age rating due to these laws."

Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and directed by Todd Haynes, Carol has five Golden Globes nominations and topped several important lists for the best film of 2015.

Since the law "against gay propaganda among minors," which many saw as a crackdown on the gay community in general, was enacted in Russia in mid-2013, there have been attempts to disrupt screenings of LGBT-related films. Among titles that were specifically targeted was 2013's Palme d'Or-winning film Blue Is the Warmest Color.

According to Vizinberg, the law is designed to distract the public from real domestic problems such as collapsing economy, lack of freedom of speech and widespread corruption.

"Gay-propaganda law will prevent Carol to be sold to major TV channels or even being advertised on federal networks," he said. "Some cinemas will refuse to book the film as we witnessed with Pride earlier this year."

"On the positive side, the controversy around the LGBT issues will help us market Carol to the right audience: educated and open-minded intelligentsia," he went on to say, adding that Carol is not a gay or lesbian film, "it’s a film about a relationship, it’s a story of forbidden love, and we believe that it will appeal to the public way beyond the LGBT community."