'Pride' director releases statement in wake of DVD cover controversy

Several days ago, director Matthew Warchus released a statement regarding the controversial removal of LGBT references from the DVD cover of his acclaimed film PRIDE, about a group of 1980s LGBT activists who supported a small Welsh town during the UK miners' strike.  First reported by Pink News, the American DVD cover for the film has removed the image of a banner with the words "lesbians and gays" on it and refers to the main characters simply as "London-based activists), prompting many fans of the film to call out distributors CBS Films and Sony Home Entertainment over the omissions. The film finds itself on the receiving end of this bad publicity after both Golden Globe and Bafta nominations for Best Picture.  It should be noted the film's website and online descriptions do include more explicitly LGBT-inclusive language.

Said PRIDE director Warchus:

Pride is a film which plays incredibly well to a global mainstream audience of any political or sexual persuasion.  It’s a film about two groups of people forming an unlikely alliance and fighting each others’ corners rather than just their own. It is probably one of the most political films ever to hit the mainstream and it is certainly one of the most loved films of the year (even by people who hate politics).  I don’t consider it a ‘Gay Film’ or a ‘Straight Film’. I’m not interested in those labels. It is an honest film about compassion, tolerance, and courage.

Marketing Pride has proved an interesting challenge from day one, and there are many people in the mainstream who have yet to see the film. My guess is some of those people are imagining that the film is maybe ‘too political’ for them, and some others are imagining it could possibly be ‘too gay’. As it happens, these concerns completely evaporate in the presence of the movie itself, but they are important when attempting to manage potential audience perceptions through marketing. Since the day I first read the script I have felt passionately that this film, of all films, deserves to find a fully diverse audience, from all walks of life. Indeed its’ very meaning and message is diminished the more ‘niche’ it becomes. I look forward to living in a world where these kinds of marketing negotiations are neither valid nor necessary - but we're not there yet. In a sense, that's why I made the film.

For these reasons I don’t automatically condemn any attempt to prevent the movie being misunderstood as an exclusively “Gay Film”. I certainly don’t regard such attempts as homophobic.

In a live interview with BBC Radio 5, Warchus also called the changes to the cover "clumsy and a bit foolish" but reiterated that he's "keen for as many people who have yet to see the film to see it."

It wasn't just the film's fans who were angered by the omissions.  BFI film fund director Ben Roberts said of the changes, "it's wrong and outmoded, but I'm not surprised," adding that he felt they were made based on commercial considerations.  BFI was a financial backer on PRIDE.

The film's DVD cover absolutely should have reflected the values espoused by the film itself – being proud of who you are – and it should have included the original imagery and language.

The film is a truly funny, moving, and remarkable work that deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.  Particularly for those who think LGBT people are at an impossible impasse with conservative communities, this incredible true story demonstrates how reaching out and getting to know one another can overcome even the most ingrained prejudice.  

You can watch the trailer for PRIDE below, and root for it at the 72nd annual Golden Globes airing this Sunday (January 11) on NBC.