Every Wednesday, we share short films that illuminate queer life. Welcome to #HumpdayShorts.
Navigating life as a gay man in Russia can be terrifying, but director Blake Mawson takes the fear factor to the next level in his short PYOTR495.
In Moscow, 16-year-old Pyotr (Orphan Black’s Alex Ozerov) is lured into a trap by a violent nationalist group via a gay-dating app. But as Pyotr’s attackers soon discover, for them, the horror is just beginning.
Mawson, a Canadian filmmaker, wanted to use his art to address the growing anti-LGBT sentiment in Russia and the region—including the country’s gay-propaganda ban and the anti-gay purge in Chechnya. (Ozerov, who also appeared on The Americans, was actually born in Tula, Russia, and immigrated to Toronto when he was 13.)
“I think if I can use genre film to put an audience in the shoes of the people who are experiencing this type of terror and hatred, make them uncomfortable and have them realize that this is actually not so make-believe in the end, that this type of horror is real—then we can begin to open people’s eyes and reach an audience in new and unexpected ways,” Mawson, told Short of the Week.