Journalist | Film Critic

Ksenia is a graduate of the journalism department at St. Petersburg State University, her work has been published by Chastnyi korrespondent, Gazeta.ru, Vash Dosug, Film.ru and Germania-Online.ru, among others. She did an internship with the Film Commission Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and in 2012 was awarded the Peter Boenisch Prize for best young Russian journalist writing about Germany. Since 2011, she has worked as a consultant for the German Film Festival in Petersburg, organized by the Goethe Institute. She has curated the Russian-German Film Forum in Hamburg since 2013.

"All of us know about cinema’s function as entertainment, but for some reason we often forget it also has a social function. Cinema (if we are talking about the art rather than its counterfeit) interprets reality, blurs boundaries and breaks taboos. What matters to cinema is the main character’s personality and her story rather than the color of her skin, her religion or sexual orientation. It acknowledges and accepts any kind of otherness, because nothing at all would emerge on the silver screen without otherness. It should be that way in real life too, but, alas, a considerable part of Russian society finds it easier to reject the other than to understand and accept them. I continue to believe, however, in the power of art. I consider the Side by Side Film Festival one of the little steps that someday (very soon, I hope) will lead us to a world where people will not have to apologize for their individuality or hide it from the majority."






Trans Activist

Anton is coordinator of the Petersburg trans project T-Action, runs support and discussion groups for trans people and their loved ones, and holds transgender sensitivity training workshops.

“In 2014, when T-Action was just getting up and running, I took part in a discussion on transgender at Side by Side. A certain number of trans people I knew were in the room, but then I realized there were even more strangers, people not yet willing to talk about these subjects, especially publicly. The funny thing is that some of those people are now volunteers and activists at T-Action.

This is very important work to me: mobilizing the community by setting up inclusive venues for talking about complicated, vital topics. Someone has to start the conversation, and someone else will inevitably pick it up. Art and the Side by Side Film Festival, in particular, are great ways of starting conversations. It is great honour for me to be a member of the festival jury. I am also glad that, at least this year, I will finally get to see all the films.”






Journalist | Film Critic

Alisa writes about cinema and contemporary culture for The Village, Wonderzine, Afisha, Interview, and GQ. She runs the Youth & Truth film club and lectures on the history of cinema and art. A graduate of the Higher School of Economics and the Manege/MediaArtLab Open School, she has studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague and Anatoly Osmolovsky’s BAZA Institute.

«The most interesting thing in culture is the conversation about humanity and human beings, about differences between personal and collective experience, about how people grow, change, and turn into new selves. The cinema of recent years makes quite palpable the sense that personal stories are innovative and genuinely captivating compared with commercial cinema’s genre films. Very complicated things are portrayed more convincingly in documentary and socially engaged cinema. They speak in a quiet tone to the audience, making unusual worlds familiar, tangible, and intelligible.

Cinema’s principal quality is creating the impression that viewers can reach out and touch the main characters, live the lives they live, embrace their experience, and look at events with new eyes. I appreciate the curiosity of audiences and their interest in other viewpoints. I look forward to films I have not seen yet expanding my knowledge of the world. Openness and receptivity are the most valuable human qualities. I think it vital that Russia serve as a venue for events that make us rethink our present and our history, human relations, and the opinions we share with others. The media are chockablock with discrimination and degrading stereotypes about people who are not like us. I support all grassroots cultural efforts to fight these stereotypes.






Programming Director of Kreivės LGBT Film Festival | Activist

Augustus comes from Vilnius, Lithuania, and is a part of Vilnius LGBT* Festival Kreivės. He has an academic background in gender studies and has been involved in LGBT* activism and wider human rights movement for about a decade. Augustas has started to combine his passion for activism and cinema in 2012, joining an LGBT* film festival in Vilnius, which then developed into Kreivės – a wider annual cultural festival, providing a unique space for film screenings, events and community building.

"The importance of Side by Side cannot be overestimated in today’s shifting environments. For years closely following the festival and being fascinated by its development, I am very pleased and honoured to be able to be a small part of it this year."






Musician | Soloist of Iva Nova

Anastasia is a singer, keyboard player, and percussionist with the band Iva Nova and her own solo project, Aisatsana. She studied philology at the Pskov Pedagogical Institute, and then sociology at St. Petersburg State University before doing a stint as a journalist. Music has been her only pursuit since 2005. Iva Nova has performed at various polystylistic music festivals in Russia and abroad. The group performed at Petersburg’s QueerFest in 2009 and 2011.

"I cannot imagine my life without music, books and movies. They are filled with humanity, its diversity, vastness and mystery, its foolishness, value, and sensitivity, everything that makes us so different and so much the same as people. I look forward to watching the films at Side by Side, because the festival is where you can see movies not often available to a wide audience."