Saturday, June 17th, 2017
Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1J5
Doors open 6:30 PM, screening starts at 7:00 PM
For the past two years, a Gay Propaganda Law has been in force in Russian-dominated eastern Ukraine and Crimea. AIDS organizations have been defunded. LGBT parents live in fear of having their children seized by authorities.
Join Canadian filmmaker Marusya Bociurkiw as she travels to Ukraine, interviewing LGBT refugees and activists, just after Russian occupation of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Meet several LGBT and feminist who, after horrific experiences at the hands of Kremlin-funded militias, have fled eastern Ukraine for the relative safety of a shelter in Kyiv. Witness the rise of hate crimes and nationalist fervour in central Ukraine, and the creative resistance of the LGBT activists, as they organize for their first Pride Day since Euromaidan.
Bociurkiw, a Canadian of Ukrainian descent, tells a parallel story of growing up queer in Canada, and finding LGBT community in the place she least expected it—Ukraine. This film is the first to tell the story of the LGBT activists on the front lines of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. In it, you’ll meet several memorable characters, including Alexandra, an LGBT activist whose face was on a Wanted poster plastered across the city of Donetsk; Sergo, a Georgian activist beaten by his own family; and Olena, a leading LGBT activist.
“…Basically now I’m giving you an interview about LGBT stuff…. it can be considered propaganda,” says Olena, adding that if this law were in effect across Ukraine, she could be thrown in jail for up to six years. Thousands of LGBT refugees have fled the Russian- dominated regions, joining the almost two million internally displaced people in Ukraine. But this is no victim narrative. Ukraine’s first generation of out LGBT activists is young, hip, and deeply engaged in rebuilding their country. “This is my love letter to the LGBT people of Ukraine,” Bociurkiw says.
The film has has screened in Germany, Hungary, the UK, several cities in Canada, and notably, Lithuania—where activists are fighting a “gay propaganda” law of their own. Upcoming screenings include Denmark, Ukraine, and South Korea.
As Daniela Costa writes in AfterEllen.com, “If you’re at all interested in learning about the Ukrainian situation from an LGBT perspective, you need to watch This is Gay Propaganda.
So who is Marusya Bociurkiw?
Marusya Bociurkiw is writer/director of 10 films and videos, including “What’s the Ukrainian Word for Sex?” (2009), and the author of five books, including the award-winning Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl (Arsenal Pulp Press 2007). Her creative non-fiction story, “A Girl, Waiting”, was recently shortlisted for the prestigious CBC Canada Writes Literary Award. She is a longtime media activist: her multi-genre work, which links issues of ethnicity, nation, sexuality, and social justice, has been presented on four continents. She is associate professor of media theory, and director of The Studio for Media Activism & Critical Thought, at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.
“Growing up, I felt like the only Ukrainian-Canadian lesbian on the planet– until I went to Ukraine…This film is an attempt to build global solidarity and knowledge about an inspiring human rights struggle in a little-known part of the world.”
Meet the Team
MARYNA LIAPINA Cinematographer/DP. Maryna Liapina is an accomplished cinematographer and filmmaker whose credits include the Ukrainian documentary “Positive” (2013). Her portfolio can be viewed here.
KAREN VANDERBORGHT Editor. After 10 years of curating and creating in the Brussels underground media art scene, Karen moved to Canada, collaborating on various documentary and TV productions, as a polyvalent DOP, editor and director. Her portfolio can be found here.
STEVE CUPANI Sound Editor. Accomplished composer for film and television, Steve Cupani is the winner of several awards including the Golden Sprocket Award and the Accolade award for Children’s Short Film. More info here.
ROB TEEHAN Composer. Rob Teehan is a composer, known for The Babushkas of Chernobyl (2015), Flor de la Mar(2015) and Hogtown (2012). More information can be found here.
NEYSA MALONE Original music. Malone wrote the 2015 Billboard Top 5 Dance Club Tune, “Rise Above the Game”. Collaborates with Ray Angry of the Roots. Wrote Hayden Panettiere’s “Cotton” commercial. Singer for Starbucks, Samsung, Barbie commercials. See more here.
“If we hope to help [the people of Ukraine] we need to understand the issues at hand… you need to watch This is Gay Propaganda..”
– AFTER ELLEN
“Russia’s gay propaganda Law is not just a Russian trend. It’s happening all over the world.”
– NOW Magazine
We hope to see you there!
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