Gay Film's Poster Freaks Out Parisian Suburbs

6.12.2013

By Andrew Belonsky

French Culture Minister calls poster's removal "an act of censorship."

French homophobes, lovers of the shirtless, homoerotic protests and flamboyant marches, are so perturbed by the mere idea of men making love that they've complained about an illustrated poster for the critically acclaimed film L’Inconnu Du Lac ("Stranger by the Lake").

Celebrated at Cannes alongside Palme d'Or-winning Blue is the Warmest Color and picked up for U.S. distribution by Strand Releasing, the movie, directed by Alain Guiraudie, follows Franck (Pierre de Ladonchamps) as he meets and falls in love with a dangerous man named Michel (Christophe Paou) at a popular gay cruising spot.

As far as gay-themed flicks go, L’Inconnu Du Lac, which won Guiraudie a best director award at Cannes's Un Certain Regard sidebar festival, is pretty tame, and the posters are even more tame. Yet so many French people complained about the poster's placement in the suburban towns of Versailles and Saint-Cloud that city officials ended up removing them.

Ad agency JC Decaux wasn't consulted but say that they understand critic's concern. "[The poster] could shock people who find themselves disarmed by posters in the street that address sexuality," they said, according to Nikki Finke at Deadline. But French Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti described the poster's removal as "an act of censorship." The images, she says, "do not present risks to public order that could justify."

Perhaps Filippetti will be on hand this evening at a same-sex kiss-in being held at the Saint-Cloud Town Hall to protest the city council's kowtowing to conservative critics.

For some context, here's the trailer for L’Inconnu Du Lac with English subtitles.

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