In the Fall of 2013 a Russian documentary filmmaker contacted numerous LGBTQ activists and filmmakers in Canada and the United States with whom they had worked with in previous years to screen their films. The message they sent was a request to help fund a film that they believe desperately needs to be made: a documentary by Russian LGBTQ identified people about the impact of the recent anti-gay propaganda law on LGBTQ identified young people.
They reached out to queer filmmakers, activists, and sympathetic video programers because their project would be impossible to make without the financial support from the international LGBTQ community. Funding for such a project is not only impossible, but criminal within the Russian federation. As a result, an Indiegogo campaign was launched for the film Children 404 by four Montréal based activists working in collaboration with their Russian colleagues.
According to the filmmakers there are currently about 2.5 million LGBTQ children and teenagers in Russia. In June of 2013 Vladimir Putin signed into law a new bill that forbids “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. LGBTQ young people are now defenseless because of this “gay propaganda” law.
It is now forbidden to tell them that they are healthy and not sick, sinful, or abnormal. Psychologists, teachers, and even parents could be fined or imprisoned for supporting LGBTQ young people. These LGBTQ young people are now being bullied and harassed even worse than ever before by peers, teachers, and parents in school and out. This climate of anti-LGBTQ violence and harassment is permissible because of Putin’s anti-gay propaganda law.
The main character of this documentary project is eighteen-year-old Pasha, who survived much anti-LGBTQ harassment and intimidation at school. After recently finishing school he became an LGBTQ activist and later this year he enters a Canadian university, moving to Canada for the foreseeable future. This film will also contains anonymous interviews with young people, parents, psychologists, teachers, and priests on both sides of the issue in Russia.
Unlike other recent documentaries produced by Westerners about the anti-LGBTQ climate in Russia, Children 404 promises to be the first of it’s kind: a documentary by Russian LGBTQ people about their own situation.