Russia's LGBT Festival Side by Side Announces Lineup

Russia Anti-Gay Dustin Black Guest Column - P 2013

Russia Anti-Gay Dustin Black Guest Column - P 2013

The St. Petersburg-based festival nearly avoided being branded as a "foreign agent" earlier this year by the Russian government.

MOSCOW -- The sixth edition of the Russian LGBT film festival Bok o Bok (Side by Side), which came under the authorities’ attack earlier this year, is to be held in St Petersburg on Nov. 21-30.

Among the highlights of the festival's lineup are Matterhorn by Dutch director Diederik Ebbinge, Xavier Dolan’s Tom a la Ferme (Tom at the Farm), W imie... (In the Name Of) by Polish director Ma?gorzata Szumowska and the documentary Lesbiana, by Canadian filmmaker Myriam Fougère.

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The list of confirmed guests includes Ebbinge and cinematographer Dennis Wielaert, American filmmaker Marta Cunningham, whose film Valentine Road is to be screened in the documentary section, and Germany's Andreas Strohfeldt, co-director of Out in East Berlin.

The festival is also going to feature talks and discussions on LGBT issues.

Entrance to all the festival events are strictly to people over 18 years old to comply with the recently enacted controversial law "against propagation of homosexuality among minors."

Earlier this year, the festival came under attack from the authorities as it was branded a "foreign agent" and fined $15,500 (500,000 rubles,) in a move that many believe was a crackdown on non-governmental organizations. However, the festival appealed the verdict, and a higher court later canceled it.