Bomb Threat Disrupts Moscow Screening of Transgender Film

Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

The theater showing the film as part of LGBT festival Side by Side was evacuated following what organizers later said was a hoax.

Screenings of several films at the LGBT festival Side by Side were disrupted in Moscow this past weekend due to what organizers said were hoax bomb threats.

Audiences were evacuated from a screening of the transgender-themed movie Girls Lost (Pojkarna) by Swedish director Alexandra-Therese Keining.

The screening of the film, which premiered in Toronto in 2015 and will be screened as part of the Ecrans Junior competition at Cannes Film Festival next month, never resumed.

“After about 45 minutes into the film, the organizers of the festival and the police received a bomb threat by telephone, saying that there was a bomb in the building,” Keining, who attended the screening alongside the film’s composer Sophia Ersson, told The Hollywood Reporter.

She added that the audience was evacuated from the screening room at the top floor of the building.

“The audience waited patiently for hours,” she went on to say. “We were very impressed with how the festival acted but also disappointed when the screening of the film, as well as our Q&A with the audience, was not resumed out of fear of more violent threats.”

The festival’s organizers suggested that the bomb threat, as well as those at other screenings, were fake, aiming to disrupt the festival.

"Law enforcers arrived at the venues 30 to 40 minutes after calls about bomb threats," they said in comments on the festival's website. "Everyone who was present noticed that the police just dragged it out to disrupt the screening even further."

The festival's screenings have also been disrupted in the past, especially after the adoption several years ago of a law "against gay propaganda among minors," which many saw as a crackdown on Russia's gay community in general.