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V Side by Side LGBT Film Festival Recognizes Support of Politicians, Artists and Journalists at Closing Ceremony.

On 3rd November, 2012 the fifth Side by Side LGBT Film Festival came to a successful close in Saint Petersburg, Russia. At the closing ceremony this year it was not only filmmakers that were recognized for their work, being presented the festivals BOBIK award by the jury but individuals and collectives working in the field of politics, protest art and journalism were also to receive a new award BRAVE TAIL voted by the audience in acknowledgement of their defense of the rights of the LGBT community in Russia.

Winners of the BOBIK award, 2012:

Best Feature Film: Beauty (Skoonheid) by Oliver Hermanus (South Africa, France, Germany, 2011, 98 min) for: “the brave and intrepid study of male sexuality.”

Director’s Statement:

“I am greatly honoured to have this award bestowed on our film Skoonheid. As a film director, I strive to tell stories that affect and move people. Cinema can be an agent of social change and this film cuts deep into the still ever present wound of sexual repression and the self loathing that comes with it. I am very proud to have Skoonheid honoured at Side by Side because it is important for creatives and the international community to champion voices of change for equality. The suffering of gay and lesbian men and women is still ever present around the world and our film tries to depict the tragic downfall that can happen when you are not brave enough to be yourself. It is only through telling our stories that we can hope to inspire others to make that change. I thank you.”

Best Documentary Film: Call Me Kuchu by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright (USA, Uganda, 2012, 87 min).

Directors’ Statement:

“We are tremendously honored to receive this award, and very sorry we could not be in St. Petersburg today to express our excitement and gratitude in person. We would like to thank the programmers at the Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival for showcasing the film, and we would of course also like to extend a huge and heartfelt thank you to the jury for giving CALL ME KUCHU this recognition.

This film wouldn’t have been possible without the continual cooperation and support of Uganda's LGBT community, who allowed us to document their work and life without restriction.  So it is in their honor that we accept this award. 

And although the LGBT activist community in Uganda has grown ever stronger in recent years, the fight isn’t over. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been reintroduced in Uganda's Parliament, and is currently awaiting debate - it could be passed any day now.  Sodomy remains illegal, and lately, LGBT workshops in Kampala have been shut down by the Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity…but the community has responded by filing a lawsuit against the Minister for violating their right of freedom of assembly. And in the U.S. courts, a  lawsuit has also been filed by the activists against Scott Lively, an American pastor known for his anti-gay rhetoric.  And so, Kampala's kuchus carry on, working tirelessly and with great courage to liberate their community. As David would say: A Luta Continua, or The Struggle Continues!”

Best Short Film: La Duche (The Shower) by Maria José San Martín (Chile, 2011, 10 min) for: “the ability to penetrate and fine mapping of the drama of human relationships."

Director’s’ Statement:

“I want to thank this festival and everyone who contribute to modify our society and recognize this new kind of family and the new relationships. The visibility of LGBT is now a reality and that is a responsibility of each one of us.”

The jury also gave Special Mentions to: For You Naked (För dig naken) by Sara Broos (Sweden, 2012, 74 min), I am a Woman Now by Michiel van Erp (Netherlands, 2011, 86 min) and Blokes by Marialy Rivas (Chile, 2011, 15 min). The Russian short film Altar of Inanna directed by Rinat Minnehanov (2012) also gained notable attention for: “the depth of reflection, strength and diversity of human love and the courage of a young director, who revealed a problematic topic in the context of increasing homophobia in society."

Audience Award: Codebreaker by Clare Beavan (UK, 2011, 82 min) 

Winners of the: BRAVE TAIL award were Saint Petersburg politician Maxim Reznik – Deputy and Member of the Yabloka Party, punk protest group Pussy Riot and the journalist collective from the magazine Bolshoi Gorod were voted by the audience in  acknowledgement  of their defense of the rights of the LGBT community. Maxim Reznik on picking up the prize stated: “I’m very busy and rarely get to see the whole family. Today our godson is one year-old. I got a call informing me that I had won a prize for supporting LGBT rights and opposing homophobic policy in Russia. All my family said, "You have to go and collect it! To win an anti-Milonov prize is an honor””

Side by Side LGBT Film Festival ran the course of 10 days, taking place at 4 different venues, screening 37 films from countries around the world. Events were highly attended and over 2000 visitors were in attendance. This year the festival screened 6 Russian produced LGBT films.  


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