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Russians defy thugs to host LGBT film festival in Moscow

Russians defy thugs to host LGBT film festival in Moscow

Gay Russian film fans are defying thugs and politicians to host the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in Moscow.

The festival will screen 17 films from tomorrow (18 April) until 21 April.

Last April, when Side by Side made its debut in Moscow 1,200 people attended.

They were picketed by Orthodox Christian activists wearing t-shirts with the slogan ‘Orthodoxy or death’ and shouting ‘Perverts get out of Russia.’

Police protected the festival-goers however – and they are hoping that will continue this year.

Manny de Guerre of Side by Side said: ‘At present it is uncertain if and what kind of opposition the organizers and festival will face this year.

‘In the event of threats and violence will the police and authorities abide by their duties and protect law abiding citizens? Or, as they have done so many times before, will they opt to support extremist elements who threaten life and both democratic values?’

The police refused to protect the last day of the festival when Side by Side organizers took it to Novosibirsk, Russia, in June last year.

Homophobic youths surrounded the shopping center where it was being held.

And when the organizers – who were the last to leave – got into a taxi, someone tried to smash the vehicle’s window and a 30-strong mob chased them away.

This year the Moscow audience will see award winning features including Tomboy by Celine Sciamma (France, 2011) and Beauty by Oliver Hermanus (South Africa, 2011). They will also get to question both the film’s directors.

The documentary section includes the highly acclaimed film I Am A Woman Now (Netherlands, 2011) which gives intimate portrait of five women who underwent reassignment surgery in the 1950s. And Codebreaker (UK, 2011) which tells and tragic story of Alan Turing – a British war hero and the father of modern computing – persecuted for being gay.

Shorts from Argentina, Chile and Russia are also included.