Romas Zabarauskas is using cinema to fight for LGBT rights and against prejudice.

Romas Zabarauskas is using cinema to fight for LGBT rights and against prejudice.

When Romas Zabarauskas’ debut feature We Will Riot was selected by the Moscow International Film Festival in 2013, he knew immediately what to wear on opening night: a “Free Pussy Riot” t-shirt.

Russia’s anti-gay legislation has been well publicised, but in Romas’ native Lithuania the government adopted a similar Protection of Minors law in 2010 with little outside media attention. His invitation to Moscow was the perfect opportunity to speak out against Putin’s agenda and help generate discussion around his film, which explores identity and LGBT issues in Lithuania.

We Will Riot was an attempt to make something between politics and entertainment, and between different identities: black, gay, electronic music, Lithuanian,” Romas explains.

The 23-year-old openly gay filmmaker from Vilnius has been involved in fighting Lithuania’s increasingly homophobic political climate since 2009 and founded LGBT Friendly Vilnius in 2012. Cinema is just one of the weapons in his activists’ arsenal. Porno Melodrama in 2011 was a direct response to state homophobia and he has gone to Kickstarter to fund his next film You Can’t Escape Lithuania.

You Can’t Escape Lithuania is a fictional version of the filmmaker’s life, a queer art film inspired by Fassbinder, Douglas Sirk and Dostoyevsky, that he describes as “personal, and more unhinged” than his debut. Expect more provocative filmmaking that will ruffle feathers and show that Lithuania’s LGBT community refuse to be silenced.

Support You Can’t Escape Lithuania on Kickstarter and check out We Will Riot, available on VOD now.