22 February 2015

Movie Review: To Russia with Love

Because Johnny Weir headlines this documentary, I was somewhat suspicious that this was a marketing piece for Johnny Weir, who was a sports commentator for NBC at the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Leading up to the Olympics, Russia passed a law prohibiting the communicating of anything LGBT called an 'anti-propoganda' law. Various LGBT movements around the world responded by demanding a boycott of Russian (and at first Eastern European) products and a boycott of the Olympics. Johnny Weir as a Russophile/Sovietphile called those LGBT activists "idiots."

The short of it is is that Russia is presently a fascist-imperialist state that has used LGBT people as the Othered common enemy (hence the "anti-propaganda law"). The official fascist line is that the economic problems of Russia are not incompetent cronyism of Putin and his inner circle, it's LGBT people infecting the youth with subversion. This translates in the remote and rural areas of the provinces, as one Russian activist from Sochi, who was followed by the documentary explains, being attacked by Nazis on the way home every day and then blamed for it by the principal of his high school.

So Johnny Weir is one thread, the youth is another. This youth meets Billy Jean King -- who US President Obama had appointed to lead the US Olympic delegation. She is so moved and it was so unexpected that her handlers had to "move her along."

One other thread is a Russian athlete who holds the "Open Games" in Moscow. He tours North America and Europe drumming up support. After the Sochi threads, we turn to Moscow where the police harass the Open Games activities except for table tennis and the events attended by US Olympic medalist Gregg Louganis.

In the end, the Sochi youth makes it to New York City and meets Bill Jean King again who promises to help him by sending him to school in the US. The movie ends with him boarding a bus to California and it cuts to a black out and it says he will seek asylum.

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