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Ukraine to host first LGBTQ+ film festival despite war

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The organisers of Ukraine’s first LGBTQ+ film festival say one of their biggest challenges will be ensuring the safety of people attending the event scheduled to be held in Kyiv during Pride month.

Many cultural events have been cancelled since Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago, but backers of the Sunny Bunny festival said they were determined to highlight LGBTQ+ rights by staging the event as planned in June. “The festival will be for the queer community, who are still here, fighting for our freedom, our lives and our rights, like anyone else,” Bohdan Zhuk, one of the festival’s organisers, told Openly in a video call from Kyiv.

He said safety issues would be paramount. “If there’s an air siren, we need to make sure that there’s a shelter in the venue, in the cinema, or somewhere nearby – normally, metro stations would work for that,” Zhuk said, conceding that some people might be wary about travelling to the war-torn country. “We’re expecting to have guests representing films at this festival, but obviously not that many people will want to risk their lives,” he added, saying logistics could also be an issue.

The conflict has increased the time it takes to travel to Ukraine, turning previous two-hour plane trips from other European cities like Berlin into long journeys across several borders.

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