Today's Daily Dirty Diary

LEBANON BANS CANNES WINNING FILM OVER GAY THEMES

Alain Guiraudie was recently awarded best director at the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section for L’Inconnu du Lac (Stranger by the Lake). The film centers heavily on “cruising”, the gay ritual which involves men meeting in spontaneous, often public locations, in search of sexual relations. The lead character, Franck, ventures to a lake each summer and engages in unapologetic, hedonistic pleasure with men from a close by town. Guiraudie does not shy away from the sexual subject matter; he explores the physical seduction of these trysts, leaving little to the imagination.

Critics have praised the film for being risqué while some countries have found it simply offensive. Posters of the film have already been pulled in two French suburbs after complaints of indecency. In the Middle East, the Lebanese government has banned the film. Initially intended to screen at the Beirut Film Festival, the Interior Ministry’s censorship board has ruled that the film is no longer eligible.

The decision brings in to question the issue of artistic censorship. Lebanese law has had a history of aligning with a stringent anti-gay stance. Lebanon bans “artistic works believed to incite sectarian strife or undermine morals or state authority.” Any man or woman caught in the act of same-gender sexual relations is subject to a one year prison sentence. Ironically, Lebanon does have both a gay rights organization (Helem) and a gay rights publication, Barra (“out” in Arabic).

A final decision has still not been reached by the Lebanese minister or Les Films du Losange, the film’s distributor. The film enjoyed favorable reviews after screening in both the Toronto International and New York film festivals. Strand Releasing will be releasing the film in wide distribution across the U.S. later this year.

 






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