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 organizing four days of screening and discussion in Moscow from 18 - 21 April, 2013.
Seventeen films will be shown over the course of the festival, which is financially supported by Movies that Matter. 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 can also 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) which gives intimate portrait of five women who underwent reassignment surgery in the 1950's, will be screened. In addition, the film 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.
Within the framework of the discussion programme some of the sharpest 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 converning religion Brother Franciscas, St. Michael’s Abbey, Berlin, will be joinng the discussion.
The St. Petersburg based Side by Side Festival made its debut in Moscow in April 2012. 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.
Festival director Manny de Guerre, who took part in the Camera Justitia jury at the Movies that Matter Festival in The Hague last month, explained that it is uncertain if and what kind of opposition the organizers and festival will face this year. It remains to be seen whether in the event of threats and violence the police and authorities will abide by their duties and protect law abiding citizens. Or will they, as they have done so many times before, opt to support extremist elements who threaten life and both democratic values?