UK LGBTQ+-focused distributor Peccadillo Pictures has claimed that Amazon Prime Video UK is refusing to make Canadian artist and filmmaker Bruce LaBruce’s provocative dark comedy Saint-Narcisse available on its online store.
Company MD Tom Abell said its request to list the title on Amazon’s UK online offering had been turned down without explanation.
The comic, psycho-sexual thriller – which was the closing film of Venice parallel section Giornate degli Autori (Venice Days) in 2020 – revolves around a narcissistic young man who discovers he has an identical twin. This unknown brother has been raised in captivity by a wicked priest. When destiny brings the pair together they embark on an incestuous web of revenge and redemption.
Abell said: “We are totally mystified as to why Amazon Prime Video is refusing to make the critically acclaimed Saint-Narcisse available to its customers, both here in the UK and internationally.”
“When their system originally refused to take the film we pointed out that it was available on Amazon in the U.S. and France and then it was removed from those platforms as well, despite being on them for over six months. The DVD continues to be sold by Amazon but they won’t stream it,” he continued.
The film, which is classified as an ‘18’ without cuts by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), had previously been available on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and France but was removed in May.
A source close to the matter at Amazon said a decision on whether the film would be made available on the UK platform was still under review, but Abell stands by his version of events, stating that the title was declined. We’ve reached out to the streamer for further clarity.
Abell said: “Whilst this hugely entertaining film is full of the outrageousness and provocations that are Bruce LaBruce’s hallmarks, we have no idea if Amazon’s objections relate to the film’s themes, or to particular sequences, or a combination.”
He continued: “I’m genuinely puzzled because there are numerous other films available on Amazon Prime Video which explore similar themes, and several which are far more sexually explicit. It is somewhat alarming to note the company’s increasing tendency to refuse certain queer films access to their platform.”
Another source close to the title confirmed that Sainte-Narcisse had been quietly dropped from Amazon in the U.S. and France without explanation.
Responding to the alleged ban, cult director LaBruce said: “It’s almost reassuring to know that I can still be banned or censored in this day and age. What’s interesting to me is that it’s not the sexual explicitness of Saint-Narcisse that is preventing it from being streamed on Amazon Prime – there is none – but the subversive and challenging sexual themes and implications of the film.”
“For smaller independent films and distributors, decisions like this really do make it even more difficult than it already is to produce and promote work autonomously. I’m curious to know precisely what has got the platform into such high dudgeon.”
Abell noted that the company had a similar experience with Chilean prison drama and Venice Queer Lion winner The Prince in 2020. In that instance, Peccadillo was informed the movie contained “offensive content” that clashed with the streamer’s guidelines.
“Initially that film was “banned” by Amazon from streaming in the U.S. and that ban was carried on over here when we came to release it although they did continue to sell the film on DVD,” he said.
He claimed that other LGBTQ+ titles excluded from Amazon’s online platform in recent years have included the re-release of John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus and the short film compilation The Male Gaze: Nocturnal Instincts.