SIDE BY SIDE, Russia’s LGBT film festival, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017. Its brave directors, Manny de Guerre and Gulya Sultanova, took the opportunity to reflect on their struggles and successes during the past decade.
Russian authorities, intolerant religious leaders, state media, conservative civil society groups, nationalists, and Putin-influenced youth groups have attempted, and are still attempting, to do everything in their power to put an end to the work done by these two women. Putin supporters try to force venues to withdraw their support of the festival. They disturb events and screenings, intimate cinema owners by making false threats of having placed bombs in their facilities, threaten physical violence, preach hatred in the newspapers, and constantly look for ways to put the two directors on trial for spreading LGBT propaganda. These are just some of the many tactics de Guerre and Sultanova must face.
Nevertheless, these hate tactics are decisively overshadowed by festival achievements. SIDE BY SIDE has successfully met its goal. The festival boasts an impressive range of projects: film festivals, information brochures, online screenings, attracting numerous volunteers, filmmaking workshops, and lectures and panels that challenge the regime’s homophobic and transphobic views. The festival has had the upper hand among the general public, which supports tolerance and respect towards the LGBT community.
Over a relatively-short, yet intensive period, SIDE BY SIDE has become part of the history of international LGBT activism and a fixture in the Russian and international film festivals circuit.
We are proud to invite you to a meeting with Manny de Guerre and Gulya Sultanova. The two directors will discuss their amazing festival and the Russian LGBT community, and answer questions from the audience.