Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Moscow theater defies ban, screens Armando Iannucci's The Death Of Stalin

(Screenshot: IFC Films/YouTube)

Veep creator Armando Iannucci’s latest film, the Cold War-era satire The Death Of Stalin, has been getting rave reviews pretty much everywhere. Except for Russia itself, of course: the country’s Ministry Of Culture recently revoked the film’s distribution certification, citing its alleged efforts “to distort our country’s past so that the thought of the 1950s Soviet Union makes people feel only terror and disgust.” (Or, hey, maybe they’re just uncomfortable laughing along with Jeffrey Tambor right now.)

That didn’t stop at least one Moscow arthouse from going forward with plans to show the banned film, though; the Pioner Cinema has begun hosting sold-out shows of Iannucci’s black-comedy take on the scramble for power that took place after Stalin’s death, risking fines and censure from the Russian government in the process.


Indeed, multiple sources are reporting that the police showed up to the theater today; there’s no report of any arrests or other punishments, but—given that there’s a Russian presidential election less than two months away—it presumably never hurts to have the cops show up to casually remind fans of subversion and satire that laughing at the Russian government can only ever be allowed to go so far.


[Additional reporting by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.]

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