"Stranger by the Lake," Alain Guiraudie's explicit gay thriller which won the Un Certain Regard directing prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is being released in French theaters on Wednesday — and the marketing is causing a bit of an uproar.
The poster for the film (left) has been removed from Paris suburbs of Saint-Cloud and Versailles due to a number of complaints from citizens who are offended by the slightly-risqué homosexual imagery of two men kissing, French news outlet France 24 reports.
In response, local gay activist groups are planning a "kiss-in" at Saint-Cloud's city hall on Wednesday evening to protest the local government's decision.
"Stranger by the Lake" stars Pierre Deladonchamps as a gay man cruising for a summer fling and falls for a man who is as attractive as he is dangerous.
Régine Vial, who is overseeing the distribution of the film in France through Les Films du Losange, told France 24 she was “surprised and disappointed” to learn of the blow to the film's marketing campaign.
“We’re talking about a nice and well-designed poster that is on display on 350 French billboards without the slightest problem,” she said.
When TheWrap spoke to Jon Garrens of Strand Releasing, the film's domestic distributor, he had just heard of the controversy the poster art was stirring abroad.
"Especially in France, I'm surrpised that there isn't a greater tolerance for something that I think is pretty tame," Garrens told TheWrap. "I've seen images that I would say are more graphically challenging than that one. I wonder what is behind the controversy?"
It could be related to the fact that homosexuality is a hot topic in France at the moment. Although same-sex marriage was legalized in the country last month, conservative citizens are not accepting the new law with ease. In May, more than 100,000 marched through Paris to voice their outrage, while protestors have also announced plans to disrupt the Tour de France that begins on June 29.
"It would be interesting to see if that happens in any other city in France. In Cannes, there was no issue whatsoever with the film," Garrens added. "It was almost the opposite, the attention it got, I was impressed by the fact that it was covered so widely."
Coincidentally, Strand was looking at the poster in question this morning to decide whether or not to utilize it for the marketing campaign in America. The concept in question, however, is not two men engaging in sexual activities, but rather the style of the artwork.
"Nothing to do with the content, just the animation, the drawings. The idea of whether we should include two men kissing wasn't even part of the discussion," Garrens said. "It's not going to influence our decision."