International Side by Side Film Festival Starts!

Russia’s only Lesbian and Gay film festival Side by Side kicked off at 19.30 on 15 October 2010 at cinema multiplex Varshavsky Express in St. Petersburg.The packed house and festive atmosphere in the cinema hall was both a joy and a surprise for the participants and organizers of Russia’s first and only LGBT film festival.

Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Russia gains backing of Pedro Almodovar, Gus Van Sant and Ken Loach. Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival which will be held from 15 – 23 October, 2010 in Saint Petersburg, Russia has garnered the support of key figures from world cinema including Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, American director Gus Van Sant and British filmmaker Ken Loach.

Underlining the festivals significance Ken Loach noted its importance in its contribution to the fight against homophobia and transphobia in Russia: “You are making a brave stand on an important principle: no discrimination on the basis of gender or sexuality. Prejudice comes from ignorance. You are helping dispel that. With warmest good wishes.”

Eminent film director Gus Van Sant also keen to voice support states: “To the St. Petersburg LGBT festival, I congratulate you on your success, and honor all the participants and gay comrades throughout St. Petersburg and Russia.”

Side by Side is Russia’s only lesbian and gay film festival. The festival, taking place for the third year running, has not had an easy time with the local authorities being banned in the first year. The festival, albeit rather low key, did go ahead in 2009. This year the festival is gunning for maximum openness and will take place at various venues across the city.

In attendance will be Israeli director Tomer Heymann (“I Shot My Love”), Danish directors Iben Haahr Andersen and Minna Grooss (“Hello, my name is Lesbian”) and Swedish animator Lasse Persson (”Bikini”, “Hand in Hand”).