Wisconsin director’s action thriller “A Lonely Place for Dying” banned in Russia


In Russia, Cold War spy thrillers watch you.

Okay, that may not make much sense, but I’ve never been one to pass up a quality Yakov Smirnoff reference. And it is true that, in the case of one Cold War thriller with Wisconsin ties, Russians won’t be able to watch it.

New Berlin-based writer-director Justin Eugene Evans said last week that his film “A Lonely Place for Dying,” which screened at the Barrymore Theatre last May, has been banned by censors from playing on movie streaming websites in Russia. No reason for the ban was given by government censors, but the government also knocked back Evans visa application to visit Russia to promote the film. That suggest to Evans that the government finds the film’s content to be objectionable.

“This film is about a time and place in history that no longer exists,” Evans told Crave Online. “I don’t see why anyone in the Russian Federation would be offended by our observations of the Soviet Union and the KGB.”

Which is weird, because the KGB agent in “A Lonely Place for Dying” is arguably the most sympathetic character in the movie. The film takes place in 1972, and a KGB double agent working for the CIA discovers that the agency is illegally bombing the country of Laos with deadly sarin gas. He arranges a meeting with a reporter at an abandoned Mexican prison, but the CIA gets wind of the leak and sends an agent to kill him.

Evans, a videogame art director and stay-at-home dad, made “A Lonely Place For Dying” for a paltry (by Hollywood standards) $200,000, using an array of digital tricks to make the film look more expensive than it is. Although it has some clunky moments, it’s overall an entertaining and engrossing film. American audiences will be able to see the film — it begins streaming on ITunes today (Feb. 12).

By sheer coincidence, the movie has one other Wisconsin connection this week. The newspaper editor that the KGB agent contacts is played by James Cromwell, who made headlines last week when he stormed into a UW Board of Regents meeting lsat Thursday to protest research experiments being conducted on cats.

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