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Ukraine to host its first LGBTQ+ film festival

The festival is expected to take place during Pride month.

By Emily Maskell

Pride flag and Ukraine flag flying in the wind
The Sunny Bunny festival will highlight LGBTQ+ rights. (WikiCommons)

Ukraine is to host its first LGBTQ film festival, despite the ongoing war.

Organisers of the Sunny Bunny festival say the event will be held during Pride month. They also say they’re determined to highlight LGBTQ+ rights and diversity.

Over the past year, many cultural events have had to be put on pause following the Russian invasion. 

The Sunny Bunny festival gets its name from Kyiv-based Molodist film festival’s LGBTQ programme.

“The festival will be for the queer community, who are still here, fighting for our freedom, our lives, and our rights, like anyone else,” film programmer Bohdan Zhuk, one of the festival’s organisers, told Openly.

He added that one of the organisers’ main priorities is the safety of attendees.

“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. 

He also noted that the organisation is anticipating people being wary to visit Ukraine.

“We’re expecting to have guests representing films at this festival, but obviously not that many people will want to risk their lives,” Zhuk added.

“You don’t know a lot about queer culture in Ukraine, right?”

“Maybe it’s a bit stereotypical to do it in June, as it’s Pride Month, but it will give us more time to prepare,” Zhuk told Variety.

At Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam, Zhuk took part in a queer cinema panel. Here, he shared: “As a country that has been colonized, Ukraine had its culture repressed. And the first culture that’s usually repressed is the queer culture.”

“You don’t know a lot about queer culture in Ukraine, right?” he added. “Not because it didn’t exist, but because it was erased.”

The Sunny Bunny film festival plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in the near future to help fund the Pride event.