Do your friends know you’re here?
One evening, 16-year-old Pyotr leaves the company of his friends and rides out into the night on his scooter. He leaves the dilapidated Soviet-era tower blocks of the Cheryomushki district, heading to what he thinks will be a straightforward hookup with another guy. What he gets is very different.
Blake Mawson’s horror film Pyotr495 follows Pyotr as he is lured into the hands of three ultra-nationalist Russian homophobes. Mawson’s production company, Drive-In/Keep Out Productions Inc, is currently raising funds for post-production on the short film.
“The story is based on real attacks,” the Toronto-based filmmakers says. “It’s set in Moscow in 2014. It’s based on the bait attacks that have been happening against LGBT people in Russia.”
When Russia passed its propaganda law in 2013, it served as encouragement for those who wanted to bring violence against LGBT people. Mawson was particularly affected by the stomach-turning videos that started making the rounds on the internet at that time.
Homophobes trolled apps and websites, trying to convince people to meet up for sex. Their victims would arrive to find an angry, sadistic group of men and women and would be beaten and tortured. One of the homophobes would record a gloating video of the events.
Fueled by sadness and anger, Mawson wrote a film where this scenario plays out differently. When Pyotr arrives for his appointed rendezvous at a posh apartment, and his attackers reveal themselves, he turns out not to be such an easy target — he has a dangerous secret.
A potentially supernatural secret that Mawson is eager to keep for Pyotr. “I love a good twist,” he says. “I don’t want to reveal the entire story, but I will say: what if we weren’t all victims? What if what makes us different is ultimately what saves us?”