Culture: Film

Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Moscow

Side by Side Film Festival

Against the backdrop of an ever increasing homophobic climate in Russia, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival takes to the capital of the country once again and for the second time organising four days of screening and discussion in Moscow from 18 – 21 April.

Over the course of the festival days 17 films will be shown. This year the Moscow audience will not only have the opportunity to see award winning features including Tomboy by Celine Sciamma (France, 2011) and Beauty by Oliver Hermanus (South Africa, 2011) but the chance to engage in conversation putting their questions to both directors of the films.

In the documentary section the highly acclaimed film I am a Woman Now (Michiel van Erp, Netherlands, 2011) gives an intimate portrait of five women who underwent reassignment surgery in the 1950s, while Codebreaker (Clare Beavan, UK, 2011) retells the remarkable and tragic story of Alan Turing one of the 20th century’s most important people who was persecuted by the British government for his homosexuality. The shorts include work from Argentina, Chile and Russia.

Within the framework of the discussion programme some of the most important issues are to be addressed including the acceptance of LGBT persons in the church and rights and issues of same-sex families in Russia. Throwing light on issues concerning religion, Brother Franciscas, of St. Michael’s Abbey, Berlin, will be joing the discussion.

Side by Side made its debut in Moscow last year. Orthodox religious activists picketed on a daily basis outside the venues wearing T-shirts with slogans: “Orthodoxy or Death,” and shouting slogans: “Perverts get out of Russia”. Despite their presence visitors remained unperturbed and a total of 1,200 people attended the festival. At all the events the police were present and were in full control of the situation, providing necessary security.

At present it is uncertain if and what kind of opposition the organisers and festival will face this year. In the event of threats and violence will the police and authorities abide by their duties and protect law abiding citizens, or as they have done so many times before, opt to support extremist elements?

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