Director Gus Van Sant, producer Bruce Cohen, and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the creative team behind 2009’s award winning film Milk, are attending this year’s Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in St. Peterburg, Russia.

On November 30, a special screening of Milk will take place, followed by a panel discussion with Van Sant, Cohen and Black.

“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,” Cohen said recently. “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.”

Despite Russia’s harsh antigay legislation, the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival kicked off last week in St. Petersburg. The annual festival was first launched in 2008 and features LBGT-themed films from around the world.

Last Thursday’s opening night was delayed for 90 minutes after someone called in a bomb threat. 1,000 attendees had to be evacuated from the premises. As they were exiting the building, aggressive anti-LGBT activists gathered around the cinema. Police had to hold the protestors back. Once the building was checked and cleared, the film festival resumed as planned.

A second bomb threat was received Saturday evening, once again forcing organizers and attendees to evacuate the venue.

But the film buffs refuse to be deterred by the threats, insisting that the show must go on.

The Side by Side LGBT Film Festival runs through November 30. Watch the promo reel for the festival below.


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