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Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival to be held 24.10 1.11.2018, St Petersburg

Russias only existing annual LGBT Film Festival Side by Side will present a programme of feature films, documentaries and shorts at Cinema Loft Moscow and Space Palma from October 24 to November 1, 2018.

27 films from around the world, winners of both national and international film awards, will be screened. The programme also includes a number of interactive events and Q&As with special guests who will travel to Russia to present the films.

The main theme of the 2018 Side by Side is Women in Cinema focusing on work created and directed by women. Up to quite recently representation of womens stories, especially lesbian, bisexual and transgender womens stories, had met with many obstacles, including unspoken censorship in the film industry.

It is exactly that problem that the documentary Dykes, Camera, Action! by American filmmaker Caroline Berler shines a light on. It is a captivating look into the evolution of lesbian imagery in film history. Making an appearance, B. Ruby Rich the film critic who coined the term New Queer Cinema in 1992 to describe the unfurling phenomenon of independent LGBT cinema. The legendary critic will take part in the discussion after the screening of Dykes, Camera, Action!

Another topic that the festival will give special attention to this year is 25 years since the abolition of Article 121 of the Criminal Code persecuting sodomy.

25 years ago Article 121 of the Russian Criminal Code punishing adult men for consensual sexual practices was abolished by the decree of the president. During the 50 years that this repressive law was in effect tens of thousands were sent to prison. Sociologist Alexander Kondakov will deliver an in-depth lecture on the subject during the 2018 Side by Side.

We will see how activism is represented on the musical scene: the documentary Silvana made by Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kasterbring and Christina Tsiobanelis is a vivid portrait of the famous Swedish rapper Silvana Imam. Daughter of immigrants a Syrian lawyer and a Lithuanian linguist in the space of just a few years she has become the idol to hundreds of thousands of Swedish girls. Alongside the narcissism inherent to the genre, Silvana lesbian, feminist, antifascist and partner to progressive pop-artist Beatrice Eli puts into her passionate tracks a political message of universal equality, queer revolution and a world without hate and racism.

Side by Side will also present to its audience the hit LGBT films of the 2017-2018 festival season: Sebastián Lelios A Fantastic Woman winner of the Berlinale Silver Bear and Oscar nominee in the foreign film category. Marina and Orlando are in love and planning for the future. Marina is a young waitress and aspiring singer. Orlando is 20 years older than her, and owns a printing company. After celebrating Marina's birthday one evening, Orlando falls seriously ill. Marina rushes him to the emergency room, but he passes away just after arriving at the hospital. Instead of being able to mourn her lover, suddenly Marina is treated with suspicion. The doctors and Orlando's family don't trust her.

Girl by Lukas Dhont triumphed at Cannes with a Camera DOr award for best feature debut, Queer Palm and Best Actor award in Un Certain Regard for cisgender actor Victor Polster.

Determined 15-year-old Lara is committed to becoming a professional ballerina. With the support of her father, she throws herself into this quest for the absolute at a new school. Lara's adolescent frustrations and impatience are heightened as she realizes her body does not bend so easily to the strict discipline because she was born a boy. Lukas Dhonts astonishing debut feature is a quietly powerful and nuanced trans rite-of-passage story and breathtakingly empathetic tale of a young woman struggling to be at peace in her body.

The Heiresses by Paraguay director Marcelo Martinessi enjoyed a triple victory at the Berlinale with an award for Best Actress, FIPRESCI prize and Alfred Bauer prize that honours films that "open new perspectives on cinematic art".

The film opens at least two new perspectives for its viewers: it tells of a small Paraguay wedged between larger neighbours, and of a mature female couple whose relationship has been developing for several decades. Their story reflects the fate of a whole social strata and, potentially, in an ideal future of the whole country.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the second film of Iranian-American director Desiree Akhavan. Young Hollywood star Chloe Grace Moretz plays an orphan whose religious aunt sends her to Christian camp after discovering her with a female classmate. At the facility Cameron is subjected to conversion therapy to cure her homosexuality. Though the film is set in the 90s, similar barbaric therapy methods are used on LGBT people in several countries of the world.

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