Saint-Petersburg's "Side-by-Side" International GLBT film festival was banned for the public just before its planned regional shows on July 7-11, 2010 in Arkhangelsk. The show must have been went on at several independent scenes of the city - in "Pur-Navolok" Hotel, "Koleso" Club and "USSR" Cafe.
Arkhangelsk City and Region authorities were duly and in advance informed on film shows: letters in support of the Petersburg festival addressed to Mr. Pavlenko V.N. (city's mayor) were written and sent by the Consulate-General of the United Kingdom, the Goethe Cultural Centre and the Danish Cultural Institute in Saint-Petersburg. Festival's partners - Tatiana Vinnichenko - an Executive board chairwoman of "Rakurs" Co. Ltd., Elena Khoroshkina - an employee of the Northern Countries Ministers' Council in Arkhangelsk and Glaphira Baleeva - head of the culture and youth police division of the local administration held a meeting on July 1st, 2010 at Arkhangelsk City Hall. During the meeting festival's organizers were promised "to give free passage" for this GLBT cultural event.
Until 29 of June all previous agreements on places of movie shows were in force. But on 29th of June, the city internet portal reported that "Side by side" goes to Arkhangelsk. This news stirred a lot of emotions, site's popularity rocketed high and still the news are very popular. Such high interest of the public to this gay event planned in Arkhangelsk "has forced" the owners of the show sites to take their words back: notwithstanding signed lease agreements owners of all planned show sites referred to force-majeure and regret to fulfil reached agreement on the grounds of government delegations' visits, fire safety measures and check-up, worries over possible public disorders in the city or just simple refusal with out any explanation.
This situation with refusals was not a new one for festival's organizers (the same thing happened in Saint-Petersburg in 2008). Moreover, this issue in Arkhangelsk has become moron, far beyond the measures of good and evil. On July 2nd, the "Dvina" hotel refused to accommodate LGBT film festival's organizers, although the booking was made and paid in full two weeks in advance, on weighty grounds of government delegation's visit from Moscow those days. Any attempt to settle in any of the city's private or state run hotels were unsuccessful - organizers were refused to accommodate even in half empty hotels.
Despite all hatred, the GLBT film festival "Side by side" will be held in Arkhangelsk anyway: its programme along with photo show "Coming out" will be presented for the public at 6pm on July 7th.
This festival's director, well-known Gulya Sultanova says, "if we keep silence further, then this festival's closing would entail closure and failure of any event that somehow might bother local administration or disturb its serene life. The Russian society might face the situation when every public or mass event could be filtered as good, welcomed and pleasing for local authorities or as obscene, unpleasant events, disturbing patriarchal serenity of a little town or a big megapolis. We will not accept or reconcile with the attempts to derange Side-by-Side festival and we continue to work, feeling support from many who are outraged with the events in Arkhangelsk."
Translated by Yerdna Bananes