Last year around this time, we posted Sergey Chernov’s interview with filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell when he was a guest at the Side by Side International LGBT Film Festival in Saint Petersburg. The focus of their conversation was the vigorous attempt on the part of the local authorities to close the festival down. Yesterday we received from festival organizers a quite curious press release, in which they describe what seems to have been attempt by a local NTV news crew to cause a provocation involving fascist thugs at a festival event. One of the thugs has been tentatively identified as a member of a group calling itself Soprotivlenie (“Resistance”). If you check out this groupuscule’s program, you will find that point no. 13 of that breathless document reads: “We demand a ban on all propaganda that undermines the foundations of the family: pornography, ‘free’ and same-sex love.” And here you can see the family-values-loving lads and lassies of Soprotivlenie at what is identified as a “martial arts seminar for white Europeans,” in Belgium in May of this year.
So why was the NTV news crew hanging out with these fascists? Or are the fascists just big fans of Igor Kon?
Side by Side International Film Festival 2009October 23–31, 2009
Saint Petersburg, Russia October 29, 2009 Press Release
Side by Side Organizing Committee Expresses Its Regret to NTV
Professor Igor Kon, well known for his defense of the civil rights of the LGBT community, was scheduled to present his new book “The Boy Is Father to the Man” at the Bukvoyed chain bookstore on Vosstaniia Square in Saint Petersburg. However, the interest shown by the NTV news crew in a group of shaven-headed men who showed up for the presentation of this popular science book forced the organizers to cancel Professor Kon’s presentation.The organizing committee of the Side by Side LGBT international film festival expresses its regret that NTV and its news correspondent Viktor Chernoguz were unable to objectively cover the events of the festival. On October 28,
On October 28, an NTV news crew led by correspondent Viktor Chernoguz came to Professor Igor Kon’s presentation at the Bukvoyed bookstore on Vosstaniia Square. A group of well-built young men with cropped hair arrived simultaneously with the news crew. These young men took up positions in the back rows of the room where Igor Kon’s presentation was to take place. To an impartial observer, it seemed as if the news crew was in charge of these young men: they chatted with them familiarly and made no attempt to hide the fact that they were getting ready to interview them. The festival organizers asked Igor Kon to hide, providing him with security guards, and announced that the presentation was cancelled. A squad of four police officers was summoned to the bookstore. The organizers of the event then waited until the public had left before transporting Igor Kon to his hotel.
An outside observer might think that the Side by Side organizing committee felt unwanted: NTV correspondent Viktor Chernoguz showed no interest either in them or a world-renowned scholar. We are forced to admit that there is an element of truth in this observation. Neither NTV nor any other television channel has previously shown interest in the festival, whose civic stance is summed up by its desire to serve as an open forum for discussions about civil rights and liberties, the lives of people with different gender identities, and a society that is intolerant of nonconformity.
In connection with the cancellation of Igor Kon’s presentation, the organizing committee of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival expresses its regret that NTV and its employees are forced to resort to provocations in order to cover the events of the festival. We would also like to declare our openness to all the mass media. Esteemedjournalists! Homophobia is a mixture of fear and ignorance. Homophobia is a symptom of an unfree society. You shouldn’t exploit clichés that are so worn out that they’re nauseating. If you have nothing meaningful to say about homosexuals, then come closer and have a look. Don’t be afraid: homosexuality isn’t contagious. If any of you have forgotten, then we’ll remind you: we’re not in a prison camp. We are free people. Are you?
Side by Side Festival Organizing Committee
Festival website: www.bok-o-bok.ru