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Side by Side Receives a Warmer Reception in Siberia

At the beginning of February, 2011 Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival launched this year’s regional festival programme with a series of one-off screenings of the cult 1989 GDR film “Coming Out” by director Heiner Carow in two Siberian cities Novosibirsk and Kemerovo with the support of the Goethe Institute. In attendance at the screening in Novosibirsk was Matthias Freihof who played the leading role in the film. Both screenings in each city were heavily attended and in Kemerovo visitors had to be turned away due to there not being enough available space.

Side by Side is not a new event to the cities and last year four-day film festivals were held. In Novosibirsk the festival ran successfully from 15-18 April, 2010 drawing over 700 visitors to the event. In Kemerovo however the festival, planned from the 17-19 April, 2010, was severely disrupted following threats from authorities on the venues forcing them to withdraw their entire support. The festival in Kemerovo did go ahead albeit less openly and freely. The full story can be read  here as well as a statement from local coordinators.

The planning and holding of February’s, 2011 event went off with relative ease however organizers did come up against a clear case of discrimination when attempting to organise the training workshop on “Coming Out: How to Tell and How to Understand.” A local business centre denied the use of its premises for the workshop due to: “the activities of the film festival.” The business centre informed Side by Side three working days after agreements had been signed and rent paid. The address of the centre was listed on flyers making the information obsolete. The organizers are seeking legal advice and are planning to take further legal action.

Regional Coordinator (Siberia) Maria Kamenskya states: "Yet again we are faced another example of homophobia. We will not be stopped. People need this festival -  films and discussions are very popular with the public, as was shown by last year’s experience. I am confident that this year's Side by Side will be interesting and will be held with equal success."

Photo Reportage of “Coming Out” Special Event in Novosibirsk and Kemerovo, February, 2011

Side by Side Team in Novosibirsk

Matthias Freihof is after film questions and answers in Novosibirsk

Matthias Freihof and Regional Coordinator (Siberia) Maria Kamenskaya welcoming the audience in Novosibirsk

Maria Kamenskaya with volunteers and helpers in Kemerovo

Side by Side information materials and souvenirs

Full house in Kemerovo! Over 60 people attended the screening.

Audience actively participating in after film discussion.



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