The sixth Side by Side LGBT Film Festival opened, albeit a 2 hour delay, yesterday evening on 21 November, 2013 at Karo Cinema Multiplex, Saint Petersburg. Proceedings were expected to begin at 19.30 however due to an unknown caller contacting the Shopping Centre, Varshavsky Express, at around 19.00 claiming that a bomb had been left on the premises the shopping centre was evacuated. After an hour and a half of checks by police and disposal experts the claims proved to be false and the building was declared safe of any explosive devices.
The patience of visitors and guests who optimistically waited, in the cold, outside the shopping complex did not permit the preceding events to overrun and spoil the opening of the festival. The police, permitting visitors and organizers, back onto the premises at around 21.00 the real festivities were able to get underway. And the wait proved worthwhile, the opening film Matterhorn (Diederik Ebbinge, Netherlands, 2013) received a standing ovation, the audience expressing their thanks and gratitude to Dennis Wielaert the Director of Photography who was present at the screening.
Organizers commenting of the incident stated: “We hope that the police will act accordingly, find the perpetrators of this crime and those guilty individuals punished appropriately. It was a cowardly act and yet another attempt to intimidate and threaten the LGBT community, supporters and allies. We hope that there will not be any other incidents of this nature. We are continuing to monitor the situation and are in contact with police chiefs in order to oversee the safety and order at events.”
Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival