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Topics In the News
St. Petersburg Film Festival Ends with Bomb Threat, Support, Award Presentations
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/02/13
Last updated on: 12/02/13
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St. Petersburg's embattled Side by Side International LGBT Film Festival came to an end on November 30, 2013 with yet another bomb threat, support from international guests, including Gus Van Sant, Dustin Lance Black, and Bruce Cohen, and the presentation of awards. In addition, the festival was presented with a hand-sewn rainbow flag from Gilbert Baker, the creator of the flag that has become an international symbol of the struggle for equal rights.

In spite of harassment by officials and self-appointed censors, the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival returned for its sixth year to St. Petersburg. The festival, which opened on November 21, presented screenings, lectures, and discussions of films and glbtq issues and rights.

The festival was repeatedly plagued by bomb threats from homophobes that necessitated the evacuations of venues and changes of schedules. Perhaps predictably, it was again targeted five minutes before the closing ceremonies.

After police checked for bombs, the ceremonies proceeded.

A highlight of the closing ceremonies was a discussion by the creative team responsible for Milk, the biopic about martyred San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Director Gus Van Sant, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and producer Bruce Cohen answered questions about the film and about glbtq issues generally, and strongly reiterated their support for the glbtq community in Russia. Black told the audience, "The world is watching."

Black also presented to the organizers of the festival a surprise gift, signifying friendship and solidarity, from Gilbert Baker of a hand-sewn rainbow flag with the words "SUPPORT RUSSIAN GAYS."

Awards were presented to the following films that were screened during the festival: Blue Is the Warmest Color (Best Feature); Valentine Road (Best Documentary); Straight with You (Best Documentary Short); Undress Me (Best Short Film); and Matterhorn (Audience Award).

Festival organizer Manny De Guerre pledged to persevere in the face of harassment and discrimination.

Below is a trailer announcing the festival.

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