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Saint Petersburg Public Discuss Lesbian and Gay Rights.

This weekend the Saint Petersburg public have the unique opportunity to discuss the issue of LGBT rights with leading German gay activist Wieland Speck. Wieland Speck will be participating in a special two day event: Cinema and Civil Activism organized by Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in cooperation with the Goethe Institute in Saint Petersburg.

The event scheduled for 5th and 6th June, 2010 will screen the films of German directors Wieland Speck and Rosa von Praunheim, whose art and socio-political activities have radically changed the position of gays and lesbians in Germany. Following the screenings there will be the opportunity to meet Wieland Speck director of Berlin International Film Festival’s Panorama section, co-founder of the Teddy Award and gay activist. Wieland Speck will talk about the gay rights movement in Germany, his work, German film and take questions from the audience. The venue to host the event, Crystal Palace, is a highly popular cinema theatre, located in the very heart of Saint Petersburg on Nevsky Prospect - the city’s main thoroughfare. 

“This weekend’s event is a significant victory for Side by Side,” commented festival founder Manny de Guerre, “Due to the fact that we are an LGBT film festival we have continually been denied the freedom to hold our events openly and freely in regular cinema theatres in Saint Petersburg.” In October 2008, when an attempt was made to hold the first Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival, the city authorities closed down the venues on the eve of the start of the festival. In spite of the hostile climate and repeated attempts of the authorities to halt the work of Side by Side the organizers have remained unperturbed, continuing to move forward and bringing to ever increasing public forums through the platform of the annual October film festival in Saint Petersburg (preparations for the third are already underway), stand alone two-day themed events (HIV and Me, Transgender and Cinema and Civil Activism) and four-day regional film festivals (Novosibirsk and Kemerovo) dialogue on issues relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, LGBT rights, discrimination and prejudice of LGBT persons.

Commenting further, festival director Gulya Sultanova: “Civil Society is only at the early stages of growth. Our initiatives and success with Side by Side LGBT Film Festival demonstrate that citizens do have power, even when the adversity is great, and changes can be made bringing about a better society.”


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