A new Russian film which tells the story of a troupe of drag queens is swarming with stereotypes, according to Finnish actor Ville Haapasalo.
Ville Haapasalo, who works extensively inside Russia and whose name has been used to advertise the production, stars in the movie which challenges traditionally homophobic Russian attitudes, reports Helsingin Sanomat.
Originally slated for production almost a decade ago, the movie Veselchaki (“Jolly Fellows”) was the brainchild of director Felix Mikhaylov. The movie was shelved once already due to financiers being unwilling to back a theme considered risky. Now it has been decided that Russian audiences are ready for the country’s first gay themed movie. The film will be released nationwide across 12 cities and has also been scheduled for release in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Baltic States.
Veselchaki is the tale of a group of five drag queens that perform in a gay club in Moscow and their struggles to defend their right to be who they are. For Haapasalo, used to being portrayed in Russia in the roles of a generally nice guy from Germany or Finland, the role was something new.
”I have been involved in the project since the very beginning. We have had a lot of difficulties, not simply because of the sensitiveness of the topic,” wrote Haapasalo who can only be reached by SMS. ”Officially, the issue continues to be a taboo in Russia,” he added.
Although initial box office reaction has been limited and public perception mixed as to whether the stereotypes used in the film are actually damaging to the gay community, critical feedback has been so far positive.
”It was one hell of an interesting role and every actor’s dream, even though everybody I know warned me that it is a dangerous role in Russia,” said Haapasalo.