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Andrey Soshnikov

Andrey is a journalist. Since 2012, he has been working in a privately owned Sant Petersburg newspaper, Moi Raion (My neighbourhood). In 2013, Andrey was nominated for the Golden Pen Award in Saint Petersburg in the categories of Sensation and Neighbourhood Sensation for his investigative reporting on paid internet trolls and municipal contracts. In 2007-2013, Andrey organized public debates in bars and clubs in Saint Petersburg and other cities in the North West of Russia.

Statement: Why did I happily and enthusiastically accept an invitation to be a member of the Press Jury for Side by Side a festival that I have followed for a long time and consider to be one of the main cultural and public events in St. Petersburg? Ill give you an answer you might not expect. According to Richard Florida, the development of a modern metropolis is based on three Ts: Tolerance, Talent, and Technology. This American economist gives straightforward interpretation to tolerance: it is determined by how many people openly identify as a minority, including LGBT, and do not experience any discrimination. Talent springs from the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a city. Side by Side covers two of these three components.

I am certain that our attitude towards the issues raised at Side by Side will determine the kind of city we will live in if we will have the smart and talented people here, and if it will be a comfortable and successful place.

Olga Komok

Olga graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory and from The European University in St. Petersburg. Since 2000, she has worked as a correspondent and an editor for the newspaper Kommersant, magazines Expert and Timeout, as well as for Channel 5 and TV 100 covering cultural events.

Statement: In my not-so-charmed childhood years, I could not understand the division by ethnicity: what difference does it make if you are Tajik or if you are Uzbek, Belarussian or Jewish? In my youth, I could not understand the division between those who adhere to the so-called traditional values in bed and those who do not I was not at all interested, in all honesty Today, I do not understand this division into black and white. Neither in life, nor in art. I hope that my inability to understand these divisions will not be an obstacle in my work on the Press Jury for Side by Side and in my ability to enjoy good films together with everyone. I believe good, real films cannot be black or white, for or against, even if they are, in fact, black and white. Do you agree? My question, I hope, will be answered during the festival.

Alexandra Garmazhapova

Alexandra Garmazhapova was born in Ulan-Ude in 1989. She graduated from the Department of Journalism of St. Petersburg State University and continues her studies as a Masters student in political science at the Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg. Her thesis explores how municipally owned media informs public opinion on migrants. Alexandra is a political correspondent for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta in Saint Petersburg. She is a laureate of the Zolotoye Pero (Golden Pen a writing competition) in Saint Petersburg.

Statement:  In 2008, me and a few of my girlfriends went to see the film Milk. A cashier at the box office inquired with suspicion whether we were sure we wanted to see that film and whether we knew what it was about. We nodded and entered an empty theatre we were the only ones who came to the showing. My girlfriends did not like the film. One of them even left in the middle of it. To my regret, I did not manage to convince her that this film was not just a story about gay men and lesbians, but a story about human beings, about human dignity. In our difficult times, ruled by aggression, Side by Side serves a noble cause the cause of love (this, understandably, may sound cynical and, perhaps, even somewhat inartful, but it is true). In the book One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, the protagonist, who was confined in a psychiatric ward, tried to prove to everybody that he could move the ceramic sink attached to the floor. He, of course, could not move it, and everybody laughed at him. He then turned around and said, But I tried, didn't I? Goddamnit, at least I did that. Sadly, sowing the seeds of hatred is far easier than cultivating love, but it is our duty to try.

The BOBIK Press Jury Award

Venturing into new ground Side by Side this year will have a Press Jury for the first time. Professional journalists from leading publications in Saint Petersburg will assess the documentary section and the best film worthy of the BOBIK Press Jury Award.