New Cinema 4 – Notes from Underground: Russian and Lithuanian Queer Cinema

Feature Article Preview: Film and the Struggle for LGBT Rights

Seminar: LGBT Equality and the Geopolitics of Human Rights: Insights from Russia – Tuesday 11th February, 17:00 (90 min), University of Glasgow
Talk by the Editors of the Russian Lesbian Journal Ostrov – Thursday 13th February, 18:00 (90 min), Glasgow Women’s Library
Notes from Underground: Queer Russian Cinema – Friday 14th February, 21:00 (90 min), Glasgow Short Film Festival
Panel Discussion + Film Screening: The LGBT Situation in Russia – Saturday 15th February, 15:00 (90 min) + 17:30 (90 min), University of Edinburgh
Work-in-Progress Premiere: Wings in Sleeves and Other Films by Kseniia Khrabrykh – Sunday 16th February, 15:30 (120 min), Summerhall, Edinburgh
International Premiere: Yulia Matsiy’s They Hate Me in Vain: LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia + Q&A – Saturday 22nd February, 18:30 (140 min), Summerhall, Edinburgh
UK Premiere: Romas Zabarauskas’s We Will Riot + Q&A – Sunday 23rd February, 18:30 (136 min), Summerhall, Edinburgh
Closing Party with Film Screenings: Dive QueeRevolution Party – Sunday 23rd February, 21:00 to 03:00, Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh
LGBT History Month Mardi Gras Closing Party Screenings – Friday 28th February, 21:00 to 03:00, Summerhall, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Film Guild New Cinema 4 Poster
Edinburgh Film Guild New Cinema 4 poster (artist: Celia Phillips)
(photos and background text from Agens Magazine, courtesy of Milena Chernyavskaya)

This programme of screenings and talks presents as close a glimpse into the state of LGBT cinema and culture in Russia and Lithuania today as it is possible to get, outside of the countries themselves – and, it might be argued, within them as well. The films which feature within it aren’t supposed to exist. Some are already to be found on YouTube, featuring large, precautionary ’18+’ icons which fill the screen, heralding pieces of social advertising whose most adult content may be a brief kiss.

Because of this, some of these films have perforce become political ones – but this is, perhaps, the most frustrating aspect of the situation: the fact that one can’t simply programme films about their queer cultures without there being some degree of inherent baggage to accompany the lot of them. But if that is the state of Russian and Lithuanian queer cinema today, then that is what we are bound to depict in appropriate measure.

However, our programme is not intended a protest. Its goal instead is to depict what Russian and Lithuanian LGBT culture is in the present day. At present, the only news we get of this is the homophobia, the protests, the Duma legislation, and so on. But we never have a chance to see what these LGBT cultures actually are or could be, either as an artistic expression or simply as the way that some people live or would like to live: LGBT lifestyle as a mode of existence.

With these films, then, the aim is to present the exact opposite of the ‘propaganda’ which everyone talks so much about. The intent here is to uncover and present a hidden cinema – an emerging cinema, to be sure, but one which may also be on the brink of thriving. And if there is anything that can be done to encourage further the development of this nascent Russian and Lithuanian queer cinema, then that would undoubtedly be the highest possible goal of these film screenings.

Therefore, in addition to shedding light on the current state of LGBT cinema in the two countries generally, our screenings will also focus especially on the work of three emerging filmmakers, presenting several works each by two Russian documentarists, Kseniia Khrabrykh and Svetlana Sigalaeva, and Lithuanian filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas, who will be in attendance to discuss his work and politics. Additionally, we are proud to present the new documentary feature by Russian-born director Yulia Matssiy, who now works and resides in Milan and whom we also hope will be able to attend our screening of her film.

These films and events have been organised with the indispensable and essential support of Jenny Carr and Dr Francesca Stella, as well as Morvern Cunningham and Matt Lloyd and the Glasgow Short Film Festival, Scotland-Russia Forum and Amnesty International (Edinburgh University). We are grateful for funding from CRCEES and the Sociology Dept, University of Glasgow, and for programme support by Summerhall and University of Edinburgh DELC and Film Studies. Grateful thanks also go to Christina Vysotskaya for key translation work.

Edinburgh University Amnesty International Society Scotland-Russian Forum University of Glasgow
Summerhall logo


Our complete programme is currently as follows:


Tuesday 11th February, 17:00 (90 min)
LGBT Equality and the Geopolitics of Human Rights: Insights from Russia
Sir Charles Wilson Building, University of Glasgow, 1 University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ
Free event, booking essential
Event PageBook a Space

Seminar hosted by Dr Francesca Stella, a Research Fellow at the School of Social and Political Sciences who has worked extensively on LGBT rights in Russia and on the everyday experiences of lesbian and bisexual women in Soviet/post-Soviet Russia. The seminar will be opened by Olgerta Kharitonova and Sabine Hoffman (see below) and will include a discussion by Dr Francesca Stella, Dr Vikki Turbine, lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow, with an expertise on human rights and gender equality in Russia, and Dr Matthew Waites, University of Glasgow


Thursday 13th February, 18:00 (90 min)
Talk by the Editors of the Russian Lesbian Journal Ostrov
Glasgow Women’s Library, 23 Landressy Street, G40 1BP
Free event, booking essential
Event PageBook a Space

Ostrov logo
Ostrov logo

Talk by the editors of the Russian lesbian journal Ostrov, which has been published in Russia since 1999, and is the oldest existing lesbian publication in the country. Olgerta Kharitonova and Sabine Hoffman will talk about the journal and about lesbian and feminist activism in contemporary Russia, and present a complete collection of Ostrov to be hosted by Glasgow Women’s Library.


Friday 14th February, 21:00 (90 min)
Notes from Underground: Queer Russian Cinema
Glasgow Short Film Festival, Centre for Contemporary Arts, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD
All tickets £5
Event PagePublic TicketsThe List Preview

Kardo still
Kardo Mirza in Kardo (dir Svetlana Sigalaeva, prod VGIK + SADA)

A screening of five short films from Russia, with extended introduction by Dr Francesca Stella, Olgerta Kharitonova (see above) and Olya Kurachyova, a Moscow-based representative from Russia’s only LGBT film festival, Bok-o-Bok (‘Side by Side’), and journalist for Radio Svoboda and others. The screening will present a mixture of fiction and documentary works, focusing particularly on three films which have been included in screenings at the Bok-o-Bok Film Festival itself.

As part of this screening, we will also be proud to present Kardo, one of the newest films by innovative documentary filmmaker Svetlana Sigalaeva. Two of Svetlana Sigalaeva’s previous films will be shown at subsequent screenings on the 15th and 22nd February.

Full programme:
Kardo (dir Svetlana Sigalaeva, Russia/Sweden 2013, 30 min) – view film
Three Times About It (Три раза про это, dir Seva Galkin, Russia 2011, 14 min) – view film (no subtitles)
Altar of Inanna (Алтарь Инанны, dir Rinat Minnekhanov, Russia 2012, 14 min)
The Beginning (Начало, dir Eleonora Zbanke, Russia 2012, 6 min)
The Sign of Equality (Знак Равенства, dir Alina Alieva, Russia 2013, 4 min) – view film

Nachalo still
Natalya Logunova and Elena Kosheleva in The Beginning (Начало, dir Eleonora Zbanke, prod Milena Chernyavskaya)


Saturday 15th February, 15:00 (panel discussion, 90 min) + 17:30 (film screening, 90 min)
The LGBT Situation in Russia
Lecture Theatre 175 (Ground Floor, North West Corner), University of Edinburgh Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL
Free event, donations requested, booking essential
Event PageFacebook Event Page
To book a place, E-Mail or ring the Scotland-Russia Forum on 01315601486

A roundtable panel discussion between Olgerta Kharitonova, Sabine Hoffman, Olya Kurachyova and Dr Vikki Turbine, chaired by Dr Francesca Stella. (We regret that, due to inclement weather and cancelled flights, Chris Bryant MP [vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Russia Group at Westminster] will not be able to attend as previously scheduled.) The panellists will exchange views and experiences and take questions from the audience.

The discussion will be followed by a programme of recent short documentaries and pieces of ‘social advertising’ (public information films) by Russian LGBT filmmakers – including two films made for the leading Russian LGBT rights organisation Vykhod (‘Coming Out’) – and will also feature examples of similar work from Lithuania (see also below).

Amongst the short documentaries will be 2 in 1, one of three films by Svetlana Sigalaeva (see above) to be shown across several screenings. 2 in 1 profiles, with Sigalaeva’s ever-pervasive humanism, a young Russian police officer who, although involved in breaking up gay pride marches, happens to be gay himself.

Full film programme:
Good As You (Такой же, как ты…, dir Yulia Tyapicheva, Russia 2013, 9 min) – view film
2 in 1 (2 в 1, dir Svetlana Sigalaeva, Russia 2010, 27 min)
Proud Parents (Гордые Родители, dir Yulia Tyapicheva, Russia 2013, 31 min) – view film
Baltic Pride 2013 Vilnius Promotional Video (prod Lithuanian Gay League, Lithuania 2013, 1 min) – view film
Kristina Becoming Visible (dir Kristina Kunsteinaite, UK/Lithuania 2013, 10 min) – view film (click ‘captions’ to turn on subtitles)
Word to the World (prod Galetki, Russia 2014, 19 min) – view Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 (click ‘captions’ to turn on subtitles)


Sunday 16th February, 15:30 (120 min)
Wings in Sleeves and Other Films by Kseniia Khrabrykh
Work-in-Progress Premiere of Wings in Sleeves
Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
Tickets £5/£4
Event Page + Public Tickets

Wings in Sleeves still
Wings in Sleeves (dir + prod Kseniia Khrabrykh)

An exciting, exclusive first look at in-progress documentary Wings in Sleeves, the newest work by talented filmmaker Kseniia Khrabrykh. An intimate and personal film depicting LGBT culture in St Petersburg, shot over the past few years, the film (ca 40 min) is currently being edited for completion later this year, but this will be the first time any of its footage will have been shown publicly. We are delighted to screen this version of the film, edited specifically for this celebration of Kseniia Khrabrykh’s work, which will present a wide selection of her short films.

Olya Kurachyova (see above) will be in attendance to discuss Wings in Sleeves with reference to the Russian LGBT culture which it depicts.

Wings in Sleeves still 2
Wings in Sleeves (dir + prod Kseniia Khrabrykh)


Saturday 22nd February, 18:30 (140 min)
Yulia Matsiy’s They Hate Me in Vain: LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia
International Premiere
with director Yulia Matsiy in attendance
plus Svetlana Sigalaeva’s Not With Us
Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
Tickets £5/£4
Event Page + Public Tickets

They Hate Me in Vain still
They Hate Me in Vain: LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia (dir + prod Yulia Matsiy)

The international premiere of They Hate Me in Vain: LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia (66 min), a documentary filmed last year by Moscow-born/Italian-based director Yulia Matsiy. We are delighted to confirm that Yulia Matsiy will be able to attend this screening and discuss the making of her film, which is the first to focus on what she refers to as the ‘double minority’ community of LGBT Russian Christians.

The screening will also include a short documentary by Svetlana Sigalaeva (see above). Not With Us (2012, 44 min) gives a personal view of the at times surprisingly supportive and uniquely familial community which develops within a women’s prison, as seen through the eyes of a recently-released inmate.

Production of They Hate Me in Vain: LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia was assisted by the Italian section of Amnesty International:
Amnesty International Sezione Italiana


Sunday 23rd February, 18:30 (136 min)
Romas Zabarauskas’s We Will Riot and Porno Melodrama + Q&A
UK Premiere of We Will Riot
with director Romas Zabarauskas in attendance
Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
Tickets £5/£4
Event Page + Public Tickets

We Will Riot still
Denisas Kolomyckis and Šarūnas Zenkevičius in We Will Riot (Streikas, dir + prod Romas Zabarauskas)

A film programme centring on the LGBT situation in Lithuania, organised with the help of Kristina Kunsteinaite, the Bristol-based founder of the Invisible People Project, a support group for LGBT Lithuanians. The films shown will include Porno Melodrama (2011, 30 min), which caused outrage in openly confronting the Lithuanian government’s anti-gay policies, and the UK premiere of We Will Riot (2013, 76 min). We are proud to confirm that the outspoken director of both these films, Romas Zabarauskas, will be in attendance for a Q&A to discuss his work, influences and politics.


Sunday 23rd February, 21:00 to 03:00
Dive QueeRevolution Party
Henry’s Cellar Bar, 16 Morrison Street, Edinburgh EH3 8BJ
All tickets £6
Event PagePublic Tickets

Dive QueeRevolution Party

Dive returns with its latest event, the Dive QueeRevolution Party, embracing a theme of camp Soviet kitsch to coincide with the closing night ceremonies at the Sochi Olympics. Expanding its mix of usual mix of music, drag, live art, performance and dancing, this Dive Party will also present a selection of short Russian and Lithuanian LGBT films, including works seen at previous New Cinema 4 events, as well as new additions curated especially for the night.

With Dive regulars Miss Annabel Sings, ‘Michelle’, Mistress Chipz, DJ Heavy Flow and special guests.


Friday 28th February, 21:00 to 03:00
LGBT History Month Mardi Gras Closing Party
The Dissection Room and Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
Free, ticketed charity event; £5 suggested donation, with all proceeds going to LGBT Youth
Event PageTicket Reservations and Donations

One final screening event to conclude the programme, added on especially to accommodate the late addition of Steklo to the programme, and to allow a second viewing of the work-in-progress world premiere Wings in Sleeves.

As part of a charity Mardi Gras party, hosted by Dive Queer Party in aid of LGBT Youth, we present two Russian LGBT film projects in need of crowdfunding support to reach completion. The films will be presented on a continuous loop in Summerhall’s Anatomy Lecture Theatre throughout the evening.

Steklo (Glass), Episodes 1 and 2 (29 + 34 min)

This is the Russian The L Word – and the closest thing there is to a Russian Blue Is the Warmest Colour.

We are proud to present a very rare public screening of the first two episodes of this Russian serial programme, which marks the first-ever attempt to produce a lesbian television series in the country. Independent producers Acte de Sabotage hope to eventually complete a first six-episode series, chronicling the lives of its six main characters who cross paths at Moscow’s Steklo Cafe.

Steklo launched online at the end of May 2013. One month later, the Russian government approved the law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ to minors. Since then, it has struggled to find any major funders willing to back completion of the remaining episodes, and are therefore entirely reliant on crowdfunding support.

Both episodes of Steklo online (click ‘captions’ to turn on subtitles)
Steklo Facebook page
Russian homepage, through which you can make donations to Steklo
Russian lesbian lifestyle blog Acte de Sabotage, the producers of Steklo

Work-in-progress edit of Kseniia Khrabrykh’s Wings in Sleeves (54 min) + Day of Silence (4 min)

Kseniia Khrabrykh began working as a cinematographer and editor on fashion videos, but, over the past few years, has begun increasingly to turn her camera towards documenting LGBT activism, life and culture in St Petersburg. Having directed a number of short films on the subject – on Russia’s annual QueerFest in 2011 and 2012, for instance – she has now begun work on her first feature-length film, Wings in Sleeves.

Wings in Sleeves documents the period from September 2011 to May 2012, centring on the activist campaign against the ‘homosexual propaganda’ law when it was initially introduced locally in St Petersburg, prior to its ultimately becoming a federal law in 2013. EFG New Cinema was proud to present the first public screening of this work-in-progress edit earlier this month, as part of the campaign to raise the remaining £2000 needed to complete the film, which Kseniia hopes to do over the next few months. With her permission, we are showing it again tonight with the same purpose.

Day of Silence was produced by Kseniia last April as a plea for those with friends in the LGBT community to ally with them and stop tacitly treating queer life as a taboo subject.

Kseniia’s Vimeo page, on which you can find Day of Silence and several other previous examples of her work, including ones now edited into the current version of Wings in Sleeves
Contact form for Kseniia, via her blog
English-language homepage for Kseniia’s second crowdfunded feature project, Мне 20 лет (I Am 20 Years Old), a documentary about Russian lesbians in the 1970s, 1990s and 2010s, utilising extensive (and unseen) personal archives, which she plans to complete in 2015


For further information, please E-Mail Further information will be made available separately for individual screenings as confirmed.