As we reported earlier, demonstrations and discussions were held in Novosibirsk and Kemerovo as part of the LGBT rights film festival "Side by Side" from May 19 until May 22. Organizers (pictured) told us that this year the festival has not met any opposition from the authorities of their respective cities.
In total, 14 screenings were held with documentaries, animation and fiction films presented from all around the world. Iben Haahr Andersen, a director from Denmark, came to Russia to present her own film. According to a press release, discussions with her participation aroused great public interest in Novosibirsk and Kemerovo.
The film project's official website quotes Iben Haahr Andersen as saying, "I am very happy that my film, "Hello, my name is Lesbian," which was shown in 26 countries, successfully toured Russia. I am struck by the openness, cheerfulness and lively interest in the film that people of Novosibirsk and Kemerovo show. I hope to come to Russia once again."
It is noteworthy that this is the first time the lesbian and gay film festival was able to take place in Kemerovo. In 2010 the authorities of the city disrupted the film festival according to a later statement made by Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Council of Europe.
"With the work we are doing, we were able to defend our right to have an open festival; we were able to show good films to the public at large and to discuss complex social issues. [...] While pursuing this course, we will be able to bring to society a simple idea that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are not some sort of strange monsters who should be feared or despised, but ordinary people who need understanding and acceptance," said Gulya Sultanova, the director of the festival. The interview with her will be published in the next issue of the "Pinx" almanac.
The "Side by Side" festival will make its next stop in Tomsk.