I've Only Just Begun
Surreal queer video challenges Russian ban on LGBT promotion
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Looking like they're on their way to London Fashion Week, a glamorously camp parade (leathers, gold lame, suspenders et al) are making their way through a forest partially veiled by mist. Their leader, Venuz Vulgar, is on his way to St Petersburg to free his imprisoned friend, and they all look pissed.
They have good reason to look that way, considering the dedications at the end of the short film directed by Finnish film director, Elias Koskimies, credited as E. The first dedication is to Nikolai Alexeyez, the founder of Moscow Gay Pride, who has recently had his appeal against a ban on the parade rejected. He was also the first person to be fined under a St Petersburg bill signed in March for spreading "gay propaganda". The second dedication is to Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band who have recently been imprisoned for two years for daring to sing an anti-Putin song.
I've Only Just Begun addresses not only the March bill, which criminalises "public action aimed at propagandising sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors", but also the oppression of groups (such as Pussy Riot) who contradict the state.
It begins with a bloodied gay man standing in a forest partially veiled by mist. He is smoking a cigarette, looking shocked and introspective. Composing himself, he shakily applies lipstick, throws away his cigarette in a defiant gesture and starts to walk.
Cue the entourage emerging from the mist, and things start to sparkle with the parade incorporating baroque juxtapositions of religious imagery with slavery, glamorous characters marching past an ever-so-slightly shocked family picnicking by the roadside, and theatrically intense fight scenes as the marchers are targeted by religious zealots and neo-Nazis. In contrast to the violence, the soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful, quiet and powerful. The overall style screams the message at the viewer without any need of excessive noise: "I'm ready to start the revolution, I have only just begun."
Words: Jane Playdon