Filmed in Ukraine, “Spangled Shrimps” sequel denounces homophobia in Russia

A comedy for the general public against homophobia and prejudice, the “Spangled Shrimps” return to theaters, with a program that is touched by current events: the new opus, which denounces homophobia in Russia, was launched before the invasion of Ukraine. included.

Revenge of the glitter shrimps, which will hit theaters on April 13, adopts the unlikely formula that made the first part a success, drawing nearly 600,000 spectators in 2019: a comedy that claims to be an LGBTQ+ film, but is aimed at everyone and on Everyone, inspired by the true story of a Paris-based gay water polo team.

After lifting the taboo on homosexuality in sport, the directors, Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo, water polo player at the cradle of the adventure, wanted to be even more political, with a film that tackles issues as topical as state homophobia or homophobic crimes. They could not imagine being overtaken by current events: the film was shot in Ukraine, with a team “80% local”

“Shooting in Russia was impossible because of the law banning LGBTQ propaganda”Maxime Govare told AFP. “If we filmed two men on the street kissing, we’d all end up in jail”

At the time, Ukraine was praised for its setting that was reminiscent of Russia, as well as filming facilities for Western teams. No one dared to imagine a Russian invasion.

Today, an actress from the film is hiding with her children in the Kharkiv metro, technicians have taken up arms, some have fled to France, where the team is calling for solidarity in the profession to find them work…

The hell of conversion therapy

For directors, beyond homophobia, “glitter shrimp” are an ode to freedom in general, and the link with the current situation in Ukraine is clear to them.

“The film tells how Putin oppresses the LGBT community” (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders), notes Cédric Le Gallo, who says he got used to singing “Slava Ukraine” (glory to Ukraine), at the end of the preview sessions in France. “Today Putin is oppressing the whole world, so that resonates most of all.”

In fact, this comedy paints an unequivocal portrait of Vladimir Putin’s country, where violence against homosexuals is common. Russia passed its law in 2013 against “propaganda” homosexuality among minors, which was used as a pretext to ban Pride marches and the display of rainbow flags.

It is in this universe that the merry band of the “Speckled Prawns”, joined by a new character, Sélim (Bilal El Atreby), a young straight full of prejudice. The rainbow water polo team, which was supposed to go to the Gay Games in Tokyo, misses its match and gets stuck in hostile ground.

While some hide in hotels, others venture outside. But in Russia, finding a gay club to party or a one-night stand on a dating app can turn into a nightmare.

The “Shrimp” will have to flee from terrifying “gay hunters”who beat up gays on street corners, and the hell of “conversion therapies”set up a program in a detention center for “tendency to” of their sexual orientation.

“We liked putting homosexuals in the land of homophobes”notes Cédric Le Gallo, but the film, between adventure comedy and musical comedy, aims to have a broader impact: the “conversion therapies” have only been criminally banned in France since January 2022, he recalls.

“Wanting to brainwash people who want to live their lives and harm absolutely no one (…) is a universal subject”seizes Maxime Govare, who hopes that the film will “clash between lightness and gravity”

The two directors have a dream: to see the conflict end and to screen their film in Ukraine, which was planned for the war. “The Earliest Would Be Best”they hope.


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