Russian queer film festival to go on in face of possible opposition

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Despite uncertainty over what kind of opposition they might face, organizers of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival plan to go ahead with the screening of 17 films in Moscow from April 18 to 21, Gay Star News (GSN) reports.

According to the report, the festival, which debuted in Moscow last year, faced Orthodox Christian protesters who wore T-shirts bearing the slogan “Orthodoxy or death” and who shouted, “Perverts get out of Russia.”

GSN notes that police did protect festival attendees, and organizers hope they will do the same this year.

Festival spokesperson Manny de Guerre says it’s not clear “if and what kind of opposition the organizers and festival will face.”

Last June, the festival was forced to cancel its third and final day of screenings in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk after
organizers and attendees “came under serious threat from a homophobic
mob of aggressive youth,” de Guerre said then.

On the second day of the festival, approximately 30 youth surrounded the
shopping centre where films were being screened and shouted insults.
“It was clear from their discussions with each other and their behaviour
that they were intent on violence,” de Guerre said in the statement. De
Guerre criticized the indifference of police, saying they failed to
maintain order or to adequately deal with the threat to filmgoers and
organizers. Security guards had to escort attendees to their cars, and
de Guerre said it was only the skill of the driver of a taxi carrying
festival organizers away from the scene that allowed them to elude the
mob that tried to follow in cars and on motorcycles.

Novosibirsk is one of a number of Russian cities and regions that have passed anti-gay gag laws aimed at banning so-called propaganda of homosexuality.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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