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‘Tom of Finland’ Director Promises to Smuggle His Film Into Anti-Gay Russia
In 2013, Russia passed a law banning so-called “gay propaganda” that has since been found in violation of international law by the European Court of Human Rights and used as a pretext for breaking up LGBTQ demonstrations, outlawing LGBTQ youth organizations and banning pro-LGBTQ speech online. However, Finnish film director Dome Karukoski is determined to get his new Tom of Finland biopic into the country, even if it means distributing a pirated version of the film
In a recent interview with Instinct magazine, Karukoski said, “It’s important [that the film is] shown as widely as possible and if we need to distribute a pirate version in Russia, we will.”
Karukoski said that when he started making the film in 2011, he only intended to tell the life story of Touko Laaksonen, the advertising illustrator-turned-erotic artist better known as “Tom of Finland.” However, in the contemporary context of Russia’s gay propaganda ban and other anti-LGBTQ developments around the world, Karukoski now feels that his film has much more political significance.
Below is a trailer for Karukoski’s Tom of Finland (half is in Finnish, half in English):
What’s so political about Tom of Finland?
A second lieutenant who served during World War II, Laaksonen used his drawing talent to create super-sexualized, hyper-masculine images of military men and bikers that challenged the prevailing stereotypes of gay men as effeminate sissies.
During his lifetime, Laaksonen experienced anti-gay violence by the police during their raids on public cruising areas, struggled against artistic censorship during his career and lost close friends in the AIDS epidemic. Nevertheless, his drawings empowered gay men throughout the ’70s and ’80s to celebrate their sexuality and masculinity rather than wither in shame at a time when homosexuality was still illegal and considered a form of mental illness.
While Karukoski has mostly directed Finnish-language films until bow, he will soon direct his first Hollywood movie, “a comedy about sorrow,” starring Keanu Reeves.
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