Set one evening in present day Moscow, 16-year-old Pyotr is baited by an ultra-nationalist group known for their violent abductions and anti-gay attacks bolstered by Russia’s LGBT propaganda law, but Pyotr has a dangerous secret his attackers could never have accounted for.
Writer/director: Blake Mawson
Producers: Sasha Fisher, Natalie Novak, Cam McLauchlin
Growing up, I was fascinated with the classic black and white horror films of the 1920s, 30s and 40s that my dad collected on VHS. Many of the characters were highly flawed outcasts, exiled from society, running from angry townspeople with torches and pitchforks and destined for a terrible outcome. These characters would somehow have me rooting for them and – as a gay teenager – sometimes even relating to them. The Elephant Man, Frankenstein, Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde, The Hunchback of Notre Dame – all of these films featured characters who were feared because of what made them different.
I wrote PYOTR495 in January 2014. Uganda’s ‘Kill The Gays’ bill had been passed a month earlier, the Sochi Olympics were underway and the media was loaded with images of targeted abductions and attacks against LGBTQ people. I wanted to respond with a scenario that I felt could have empowered someone in these seemingly hopeless scenarios. I wanted to take that anger, frustration and helplessness I was feeling and have it manifest on screen in an explosive way.
I’m more disturbed by what’s happening in today’s world than what you might see portrayed on screen in a horror film. To me, the reality of where our society seems to be headed is much more terrifying. I wanted to touch on that by drawing a close parallel between these two types of horror and ask the audience: “Is it really the monsters we should be worried about?” and start a dialogue about how LGBTQ people are still being treated out there in many parts of the world.
About Blake Mawson
Blake Mawson is an award-winning filmmaker who has been working in film and television for over 15 years.
He was awarded the RBC Award for Best Emerging Canadian Artist at Toronto’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in 2016 and won best horror short at Flickers Rhode Island Vortex for his directorial debut, PYOTR495. The film was also nominated for the 2016 Iris Prize and Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival’s Brigadoon – Paul Naschy Short Film Award.
Blake is an alumnus of the prestigious Norman Jewison Canadian Film Centre’s Directors’ Lab.