Vancouver director explores global impact of Russia's anti-LGBT stance in On Putin's Blacklist

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      The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were like a magnifying glass focusing a beam of light on Russia’s anti–LGBT legislation. The international furor about this issue has since waned, but local filmmaker Boris Ivanov puts Russia’s state of affairs in his crosshairs with his documentary On Putin’s Blacklist, which has its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

      Ivanov, who lived in Moscow until he was 16 years old, said his film profiles several individuals caught within the “new cold war” between Russia and other parts of the world.

      “The film primarily deals with LGBT rights and what’s happening in Russia with regard to that, and also international adoption, where there’s a ban on adopting Russian orphans internationally,” he tells the Straight. “They’ve banned any country that allows same-sex marriage from adopting Russian kids.”

      Captured during three years’ worth of filming in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Belgium, Denmark, and Russia, the film includes footage of Russian adoptees living in Vancouver and the Vancouver Pride parade, situating local connections within a global context.

      Vancouver filmmaker Boris Ivanov
      Craig Takeuchi

      What surprised him most was how far apprehension about Russian president Vladimir Putin extended.

      “The strangest thing for me was when I wanted to interview people in the United States and they’d be afraid to talk to me because they think Putin is going to get them—and they’re Americans…but this fear is so spread everywhere,” he says.

      Ivanov also praises Canada for welcoming LGBT immigration from Russia, noting that it’s much harder in Europe.

      “There’s a lot more that the Canadian government can do, and it kind of mentions in the film about that as well,” he adds. “There’s a lot of very sad stories, but also being from North America, there are positive things we can do here to welcome these individuals who really have no other options.”

      On Putin’s Blacklist screens at the Cinematheque on October 7 and International Village on October 10.

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