Kremlin Shuts Down Russia’s Only LGBT Film Festival



Government officials cited a ‘difficult economic situation,’ but organizers of the film festival see further evidence of the country’s crackdown on LGBT visibility.


Pictured: Two men kissing at the Side by Side film festival in 2012.

Less than two weeks before Russia’s only LGBT film festival was set to begin, government officials have cancelled the program, reports ThinkProgress.

Citing a “difficult economic situation,” the Kremlin’s “culture committee” rescinded funding from Moscow Premiere, a film festival that, for the past 12 years, has hosted free screenings of films addressing LGBT issues in Russia and abroad.

Moscow Premiere organizers were notified of the abrupt change in plans on Tuesday, just eight days before the festival’s scheduled launch on September 2. That letter from Kremlin officials claimed the cancellation was necessary because “the culture department of Moscow has to limit the use of budgetary resources in 2015,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

However, the funds earmarked for Moscow Premiere have reportedly been shifted to a different, government-approved festival, organized by a Moscow city councilor who is a member of the nation’s ruling United Russia party. The new event, titled the Youth Festival of Life-Affirming Film, will reportedly feature an entirely distinct program, Moscow Premiere organizer and film critic Vyacheslav Shmyrov told a local paper.

“We cannot affiliate to the new festival — not least in terms of our self-esteem,” Shmyrov told newspaper Noviye Izvestia.

“Moscow Premiere is primarily a social festival and a charity project that exists for those people, especially the older generation, who can not afford to go to the movies,” Shmyrov added. “It is mainly a social mission.” Shmyrov does not believe he will have time to salvage any of the films that had been scheduled to screen at Moscow Premiere.

The festival’s cancellation is unfortunately par for the course in a nation that is increasingly hostile to LGBT visibility, amplified by the 2013 passage of a nationwide ban on so-called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” which criminalizes any positive depiction of LGBT identities or issues in spaces that could be visible to minors.

Last year, the International Queer Culture Festival, known as QueerFest, took place in St. Petersburg, despite ominous threats from public officials and reports of physical harassment of attendees. In 2013, St. Petersburg’s Side by Side Film Festival faced bomb threats on its opening night, but ultimately carried on, screening Russian and U.S. films, including the Oscar-winning Milk, about LGBT trailblazer Harvey Milk. Side By Side Film Festival had been cancelled in 2008, with organizers given notice of the cancellation just hours before the festival was scheduled to open, but took place in 2012 and had scheduled events earlier this spring. 

Explore your cinemality: Manchester's HOME welcomes LGBT film festival


| By Kim Reader

‘Sensational’ and star-studded examples of LGBT cinema are set to hit the big screen at Manchester’s HOME as part of a film festival that has been touring the country.

POUTfest Tour, a Peccadillo Pictures creation, is travelling across the UK stopping along the way in London, Birmingham, Aberdeen, and Cardiff – to name just a few – in a bid to diversify audiences of queer cinema.

The programme, which is supported by the BFI with National Lottery funding, previews LGBT features, documentaries and short films for regional audiences who may never have been able to enjoy them locally before.

DIVERSIFY: The festival brings LGBT cinemas to wider regional audiencesBFI’s Head of UK Audiences Be Luxford said: “POUTfest is an incredible exciting initiative fuelled by absolute passion and commitment by Peccadillo.

“With Lottery support we hope to see as many cinemas pick up and engage with the tour as possible to help reach the widest audience for these extraordinary films.”

HOME, on Whitworth Street West, will be showing Soft Lad tomorrow August 12.

SOFT LAD: A star-studded British gay tale directed by Leon LopezThe British gay tale from director Leon Lopez stars Coronation Street’s Daniel Brocklebank (Billy Mayhew), Jonny Labey aka Paul Coker from Eastenders, and Suzanne Collins who played Nicky Shadwick in Brookside.

A GIRL AT MY DOOR: Sae Ron Kim stars in the lesbian Korean filmWhile A Girl At My Door – a lesbian Korean feature film by July Jung – will wow the crowds on Sunday August 16, and Dressed As A Girl – a ‘sensational’ documentary about the drag circuit in East London – will air on Thursday August 27.

DRESSED AS A GIRL: Jonny Woo in the East London drag documentaryLast up on this stop for the festival will be an exclusive to Manchester showing of the film Weekend – written and directed by Andrew Haigh – about a gay hook-up in a Nottingham nightclub that leads to so much more.

So whether you’re a long-standing fan of LGBT films or want to explore your cinemality head to HOME to catch one of these on the big screen

Editorial:  Will POUTfest reach Belfast or any part of Ireland – only time will tell!