Jackie and Lou sit together on the gym floor in Love Lies Bleeding.

‘Love Lies Bleeding’ Screening Disrupted by Homophobic, Misogynistic Hecklers

A European premiere of A24’s Love Lies Bleeding devolved into chaos over the weekend when hecklers began shouting homophobic and misogynistic remarks during the screening.

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Love Lies Bleeding premiered at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival over the weekend in Belgium, where it will be released theatrically later this year. Rose Glass’ acclaimed crime thriller, which stars Kristen Stewart as a gym manager who falls in love with a bodybuilder played by Katy O’Brian, attracted a sizable audience of queer women to the festival, which specializes in screening genre films. According to Variety‘s report, more than 60 queer women walked out of the screening when male audience members began heckling the screen with homophobic and misogynistic comments.

Some of those who walked out were subjected to additional heckling and at least a few of the interactions turned violent. “Once we stood up, we started hearing insults directed at us,” one attendee told Variety. “It became something much nastier. Violent. We were overwhelmed, crying and we said to each other that this wasn’t normal.” A statement shared with Variety by several of the targeted attendees goes into greater detail about the incident, which included audience members cheering during a scene that depicted sexual assault:

We know the difference between standard jokes and lesbophobic insults and commentary. When audience members applaud during [what we feel to be] a rape scene, when they pantomime masturbation and catcall the actresses on screen by shouting ‘get naked,’ ‘she wants cock,’ ‘disgusting,’ and ‘dirty dykes’ at the slightest scene of lesbian intimacy, once spectators stand up to leave the theater or ask for respect, only to be booed, insulted and physically assaulted, and once dozens of lesbians leave the theater in tears, dirtied, degraded and shocked, we can’t speak of a ‘good-natured’ atmosphere.

I’ve never attended the Brussels film festival, but based on its official website and descriptions of the event, it sounds somewhat similar to Fantastic Fest, the Austin-based genre film festival hosted by the Alamo Drafthouse, which I have attended nearly every year for the past 15 years. Up until relatively recently, Fantastic Fest could be described the way Variety describes BIFFF, as having a “loyal audience that leans male and geeky.” It was only after reckoning with pervasive misogyny at the fest (including sexual misconduct allegations regarding multiple men associated with the festival) and acknowledging the increase in attendees who aren’t male that Fantastic Fest began to evolve. (That the fest is still run by a company that can best be described as an increasingly corporate husk of its former self is another matter, and one frequently discussed on Reddit and Facebook, should you be so inclined.)

What seems to set BIFFF apart from similar genre fests in the U.S. are its “boisterous screenings animated by ribald interaction,” which Variety disingenuously compares to Mystery Science Theater 3000. Maybe movie audiences just roll differently in Belgium, but it appears that at least some rowdiness is not only tolerated, but expected at BIFFF screenings, which, again, are predominantly male. It’s easy to see why the women who left the premiere of Love Lies Bleeding felt intimidated and unsafe.

The Belgium incident (good album title) is the latest example of men behaving like absolute assholes at screenings of Love Lies Bleeding. Last month in Detroit a man was arrested at a local theater for lewd behavior during a screening. On X, an attendee posted a NSFW photo of the suspect, who fell asleep in his recliner with his penis out. In the photo, you can also see various items on the table attached to the seat, including a pack of cigarettes, a vape, and two bottles of liquor.

(featured image: A24)


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Author
Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.