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Side by Side LGBT Film Festival to Make its Capital Debut in Moscow 26 29 April, 2012

Saint Petersburg based Side by Side LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Film Festival is taking on the Russian capital for the first time bringing four days of film and discussion relating to LGBT rights and issues to the Moscow audience at the end of April.

In recent months, as a result of the continuing extension of a law (already in place in Ryazan since 2006) to Archangelsk in September, 2011, Kostroma in February, 2012 and Saint Petersburg in March, 2012 criminalizing the circulation of information about homosexuality to minors, questions relating to the rights of LGBT persons in Russia have become even more pertinent and a far greater focus of debate than ever before. In spite of the outcry from all quarters both at national and international levels the Russian government remains unrelenting in the promotion of its policy of hate towards the LGBT community. Presently, the law is now under consideration at the Moscow State Parliament to be implemented at a federal level. Speaker of the Moscow Parliament, Vladimir Platonov (Putins United Russia Party) stated in a recent radio interview that: The law is a necessity. There are no doubts about not letting minors consume alcohol. It is for the protection of our children.

The law prevents any organization or an individual to promote what is described as propaganda of homosexuality to minors. The initiative potentially threatens a wide range of activities, such as demonstrations, speeches and events on LGBT human rights as well as provision of information about or to LGBT people within the public space.

Over the course of the four days of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival the general public will have the chance to get acquainted with alternative opinion to that being propagated by conservative voices within government, the orthodox church, far right and ultra national groups. Discussions will focus on the censorship of LGBT issues in the Russian press, changing attitudes towards the LGBT community with the experience of Denmark, the Czech Republic and Russia and bringing up children in same sex families. Among the experts are Masha Gessen - Journalist, Writer, LGBT Activist (Russia), Yuri Dzhibladze - Member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights (Russia) and Martin Putna - Human Rights Activist (Czech Republic).

Also joining the discussion and debates are award winning film directors Ella Lemhagen (Patrik 1.5, Sweden, 2008), Tomer Heymann (I Shot My Love, Israel/Germany, 2010), Iben Haar Andersen and Minna Grooss (Hello, My Name is Lesbian, Denmark, 2009), Marcus Lindeen (Regretters, Sweden, 2010) and actor Lukas Steltner (Harvest, Benjamin Cantu, Germany, 2011)

The reception of Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in cities across the Russian Federation has been mixed. When attempting to hold the event for the first time in Saint Petersburg, 2008, Kemerovo, 2010, Archangelsk, 2010 and Tomsk, 2011 the festival was banned. The only exception was Novosibirsk, 2010 when the festival went forward without interference from the local authorities.

What the fortunes are for the festival next week remain uncertain. Will Moscow authorities observe the rights of its citizens or again disregard the will of the people proving yet again that democracy, tolerance and the rule of law are far from ideals and practice adhered to by the Russian State.

Festival Sponsors and Partners:

British Embassy, Czech Embassy, Danish Embassy, Netherlands Embassy, Norwegian Embassy, Swedish Embassy, Swiss Embassy

Open Society Foundation, Movies That Matter

Goethe Institute, Czech Institute, French Institute

Contact Information:

Manny de Guerre, Festival Founder  manny@bok-o-bok.ru Mob+7.911.710.2702                

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