Side by Side International LGBT Film Festival marks third year for Moscow hosts (VIDEO)Entertainment News, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Despite an increase in violence and a spike in Russian distaste for all things LGBT, Side by Side, the Russian-based international LGBT film festival is moving ahead with plans to run gay-themed screenings in Moscow for the third time in as many years. The festival, which has already played to appreciative crowds in St. Petersburg for the last six years, will run for three days from April 24 through April 27.
“Art is freedom, freedom is love, and cinema is an art. And each person is responsible not only for his or her own freedom, but also for the freedom of others,” Dutch film director Silvia Konings plans on saying at the opening of the festivities which includes 24 pictures, including seven feature-length films and two collections of short films.
The films plan on featuring many of the same themes that have played out at other festivals across the world but have taken on a special resonance in light of political developments in Russia over the last year or so; they reflect the history of civil protest (Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution directed by Myriam Fougère), and the relationship of religion and the LGBT community (The Name Of… directed by Małgorzata Szumowska); debates on HIV (We Were Here directed by David Weissman), and the problem of hate crimes (Valentine Road, directed by Marta Cunningham), and others. Each film is an author’s view of the LGBT community in the modern world or in its historical perspective, notes the program.
What many are calling the highlight of the festival is the screening of the Dutch shorts program “Dutch Courage” (April 26, Sakharov Center). During the event, the audience will watch the most recent works of directors from the Netherlands, and then be able to have a live chat with the authors, Jan-Dirk Bowe, Sylvia Konings, Laszl, Dylan Tonk and Werner Borkes, director of the LGBT Film Festival “Pink Days” in Amsterdam.
While the idea of a gay-themed Russian film is hardly new, it is, by all historical criteria, a fairly recent phenomenon. Few standouts include To My Women Friends(1993) which is a documentary that recounts the trials of six Russian lesbians. Life is a Woman (1991) is a prison drama that recounts numerous 50s-era girl-in-chain films. Luna Park has hints of both Larry Clark and Bruce LaBruce and tells the story of a post-Soviet gang of thugs who find themselves lost amid the chaos of a recently dismantled Soviet Union. And Hammer and Sickle (1994) pays tribute to avant-garde directors like David Lynch and Peter Cronenberg who try to capture life’s insanities through everyday occurrences.
Surprisingly, Russian authorities have given no indication they will shut the festival down, given that film is propaganda par excellence.
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