A scheduled gay and lesbian themed film
festival in St. Petersburg, Russia has produced a wave of criticism
The first-ever Lesbian & Gay
International Film Festival, scheduled to open in October, has had
its share of detractors. Nikolai Burov, head of St. Petersburg's
Committee on Culture, said he would neither interfere nor support the
Harsher words were expressed by State
Artist of Russia Nikolai Burlyaev, who urged authorities to ban the
festival, calling gays “perverts” and “ill.”
With the recent announcement of a venue
change from theaters to bars and clubs, it seems those brass-knuckle
tactics have worked to some degree.
Openly gay director/actor John Cameron
Mitchell (Shortbus) said violence continues to threaten the
gay festival, “We're still concerned about skinheads.”
Whether you like it or not, Mitchell
will be present at the festival's closing night, which will feature
his 2001 gay boy-to-transsexual rock odyssey Hedwig and the Angry
Inch – a classic for any gay
A selection of more contemporary gay
and lesbian themed feature films will also be screened at the
four-day event. Including director Lucia Puenzo's daring film about
an intersex teenage girl asked to decide on her sex.
'XXY' is the story of Alex. Raised a girl her entire life, she possesses both male and female sets
of reproductive organs. Now at puberty, she is being asked to
“choose” her sex by her parents, who have invited a plastic
surgeon to discuss the issue with her. Complications arise when Alex
develops a crush on Alvaro, the surgeon's teenage son. He also is
suffering gender identity issues. Alex's search for her true
identity forces both families to face their worst fears.
The film's powerful message of love
transcending sexuality is only heightened by its beautiful
backgrounds and dramatic visual style.
Freeheld, the Academy
Award-winning gay documentary about the lives of two women facing
death and a discriminatory government, is just one of the eight
documentaries included in the program.
The first Lesbian and Gay International
Film Festival opens Tuesday October 2nd.
On the net: Festival website at