The team behind the 2008 feature film
Milk was on hand at its screening at the Side by Side LGBT
Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Milk is based on the life of gay
activist Harvey Milk, who in 1978 was fighting a draconian Anita
Bryant-backed measure – the Briggs Initiative – that sought to
expel gay and lesbian teachers from California schools. Milk, the
first openly gay politician in the U.S., fought back against the
measure and won, but his victory was short lived. Twenty days after
voters rejected the Briggs Initiative, Milk was assassinated by a
disgruntled former city commissioner, Mike White.
The film's director, Gus Van Sant,
screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, and producer, Bruce Cohen, attended
the festival to show solidarity with Russia's LGBT community.
The festival, which ended November 30,
was disrupted by 5 bomb threats over the course of 9 days.
Wilson Cruz, a spokesman for GLAAD,
which helped organize the appearances, said
in a written statement: “So many films Bruce, Lance and Gus
have worked on sparked real change in the United States, and I am
proud that they represented our industry as ambassadors of hope to
the Side by Side Film Festival. Despite threats of violence, the
organizers of the festival have found a powerful way to reach LGBT
Russians and allies with images that can fuel change, and we join
LGBT people around the world in thanking them for their work and