Russian Officials Shut Down Country's First LGBT Film Fest

Side by Side was supposed to be Russia's first LGBT film festival, but on October 2, just hours before the scheduled premiere, organizers were met by officials blocking the entrance to the venue, claiming fire code violations—an excuse they say Russian authorities have used since the early '90s as a pretext for shutting down events as they see fit. 

BY Sarah Clyne Sundberg

October 09 2008 12:00 AM ET

Saint Petersberg Film Festival x100 (photos.com) | Advocate.com
 

Fire code
violations have been used since the early '90s as a pretext
for shutting down events or institutions as Russian
authorities see fit. As recently as February, city
officials used it as an excuse to close the
European University in St. Petersburg.

Sergeeva,
Zemskaya, and Manny De Guerre hoped that the festival
would plant a seedling of an LGBT cultural scene in
Russia. Features were to include Hedwig and the
Angry Inch
and Israeli director Eytan Fox's
The Bubble. To flesh out the program,
Berlin's TEDDY festival donated its entire short film
archive.

Organizers say
they aren't certain what their next move will be, but they
refuse to give up entirely.

"We will still do
something. Perhaps a small private event, or maybe we
will move it to Moscow. But it won't be a large official
event the way it deserves to be," Zemskaya said.

Tags: film

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