Queer Joys: Bobik's Choice
“On 12th November, 2020 the XIII Side by Side LGBT Film Festival was set to start in Saint Petersburg, Russia. However, 10 minutes before the opening ceremony was to start, the venue was descended upon by officers from the Federal Service of Consumer Rights and Welfare, bolstered by an extraordinarily large body of heavy-handed police officers who not only blocked the entrance to the venue, but cordoned off nearby streets.”
The Side by Side Film Festival was founded 10 years earlier by Manny de Guerre, and built from the ground up with team members Gulya Sultanova, Tanya Shmankevich and hundreds of volunteers. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the festival’s aim was to establish an open cultural space in which Russian society and the LGBT community could enter into a broad discussion and generate a positive dialogue.
Since 2010, the festival has given out BOBIK awards for features and short films alike, being the only prize recognising LGBT filmmaking in Russia. Today, in light of the country’s increasing aggressions, we have invited the organisers to screen some of the Side by Side festival darlings, to continue important discussions and the fight for a more open and peaceful society.