By Peter Knegt | Indiewire November 20, 2013 at 11:32AM
Writer Dustin Lance Black, director Gus Van Sant and producer Bruce Cohen will present their LGBT rights biopic "Milk" at the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This news comes after a very challenging year for both LGBT people in Russia and Side by Side itself.
Since 2007, Side By Side (or Bok o Bok in Russian) has been working against all odds to bring LGBT cinema, education and community to Russians. Back in June, the festival was faced with new challenges, including the law concerning NGOs and their status of being a ‘foreign agent.' In relation to this piece of legislation, Side by Side has been prosecuted under a law concerning NGOs and their status of being a ‘foreign agent' and was found guilty -- both as an organization and de Guerre, its director.
The festival thankfully ended up winning an appeal in that regard, and its 2013 edition is going full steam ahead, with the presence of the "Milk" men a very high profile addition to its programming.
Van Sant, Cohen and Black released the following statement with regard to their attendance:
“For over a century, our countries have both valued cinema as a means of
expanding cultural understanding. Time and again we've broken down the
barriers between us by sharing our cinematic achievements. Our hope in
screening the 2009 Academy Award winning film Milk -- about the late
civil rights leader, Harvey Milk -- is to encourage respectful
conversations that might create deeper understanding. Cinema has that
power. For this reason, we would like to bring our film to your country
and participate in the meaningful dialogue we feel certain this
screening will create between the people of our great nations.
"In the past year Russia has attracted considerable attention at an international level. People from afar have been watching closely the developments concerning LGBT and human rights abuses in Russia with horror, astonishment and incomprehension. Many of the filmmakers, whose work is making up this years 2013 programme, have also come forward in a sign of solidarity and issued statements of support to Side by Side and the LGBT community in Russia."
The screening and discussion will take place at the festival on November 30th, and will be moderated by Russian filmmaker Alexei Medvedev.
The festival will notably also screen "Blue Is The Warmest Color," "Tom at the Farm," "In The Name Of" and "Keep The Lights On" over its 9 day event, which kicks off tomorrow. The entire program is available here.