To Russia with Love

DIRECTOR: Noam Gonick

In the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the Russian government’s increasingly oppressive legislation outlawing so-called “homosexual propaganda” unintentionally put a group of foreigners into the spotlight: the few out lesbian and gay athletes and broadcasters who would be attending the Olympics and performing on the public stage. How would they register their protest, if at all? Faced with a hostile host country, should they risk their safety and become activists, or boycott, or shut out the politics and simply perform well in the biggest professional moment of their lives? To Russia With Love, a highly entertaining, fast-moving documentary, charts the journeys of several high-profile LGBT Olympians as they navigate the choppy, unfamiliar waters where competitive sports, human rights, and politics intersect. Former Olympic figure-skating medalist, NBC commentator, and quick-witted fashion plate Johnny Weir is the film’s de facto central character, being Sochi’s most visible, if also least politicized, out participant. We eavesdrop on conversations with LGBT snowboarders, skaters, and sledders, as they all wrestle with being true to their community as well as their careers. Ex-athletes with less to lose, like Billie Jean King and Greg Louganis, are on hand to provide a moral compass. Jane Lynch narrates the story, which admirably does not shy away from acknowledging the ultimately tepid displays of protest by foreign athletes and nations, even as Russian allies like Pussy Riot were being beaten with whips at Sochi’s gates.

— Peter L. Stein

In Russian, English with English subtitles.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D325

Co-presented by:
Council for Global Equality
The Perfect Sidekick QUEER GYM

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