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French towns ban ads for award-winning gay film

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-11

The sight of two men kissing and background figures appearing to have oral sex on a film poster got residents and mayors of two French towns so hot under the collar that the posters had to be removed, to the consternation of the film’s distributors.

Two French towns have removed posters advertising an award-winning film because it depicts two men kissing, prompting gay activists to call for a public protest on Wednesday.

The posters were taken down at Varsailles and Saint-Cloud, two well-to-do Parisian suburbs, after residents there complained about their explicit sexual nature.

The advertisement for the public opening of “L’Inconnu du Lac” [Stranger by the Lake], a film about gay men cruising for sex around a lake, also suggests a possible act of oral sex in the background.

The film, by French director Alain Guiraudie, won the Best Director award in the “Un Certain Regard” [a particular outlook] category at the 2013 Cannes film festival.

But recognition at France’s biggest film festival didn’t cut much ice at Versailles or Saint-Cloud, where tomorrow’s “kiss-in” demonstration is due to take place.

Saint-Cloud Mayor Eric Berdoati was not taking calls on Tuesday, but according to news site Rue89, the posters were removed after dozens of complaints from local residents outraged by the content of the posters.

'Surprised and disappointed'

According to the AFP news agency, the office of Versailles Mayor François de Mazières, who was particularly vocal in his stance against gay marriage (which has just come in to law), said that French display advertising giant JC Decaux had taken the decision to remove the posters from public view.

A JC Decaux spokesman, however, said the advertisements had been taken down “at the request of the town halls”.

Régine Vial, who is overseeing the film’s distribution, said she was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision to remove the posters in the two towns led by members of the conservative opposition.

“We’re talking about a nice and well-designed poster that is on display on 350 French billboards without the slightest problem,” she said on Tuesday.

The film, which has been classified as suitable only for those aged 16 and upwards, is a no-holds-barred thriller based around the sexual mores of gay men.

As well as winning the the “Un Certain Regard” category at Cannes, Guiraudie’s film also won the “Queer Palm” fringe prize that rewards films at Cannes that tackle gay issues.

 

Date created : 2013-06-11

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