“Welcome to Chechnya” is a film directed by David Frans. The film tells about the torture of representatives of the LGBT community in Chechnya, secret prisons, and how a group of undercover activists evacuates people who are persecuted there for their sexual orientation.
The mass persecution of gays in Chechnya first became known in 2017. The media wrote about hundreds of detainees who were placed in secret prisons, beaten, electrocuted and forced to give the names of homosexual friends.
On June 30, the HBO service (available in the U.S. only) is releasing a documentary film by David Frans “Welcome to Chechnya.
It is a story of the secret evacuation of gays and lesbians from Chechnya – Russian activists David Isteyev (coordinator of the Russian LGBT emergency assistance program) and Olga Baranova (an employee of the Moscow Community Center) are taking people to temporary shelters in Moscow or abroad.
To preserve the anonymity of the heroes, the director changed their voices, used pseudonyms, and for the first time in a documentary film he hid the heroes’ faces behind the faces of other people.
The video itself was shot on a cheap Sony camera – at some shootings in Chechnya the director pretended to be a tourist; for the most dangerous shootings he used a GoPro camera and telephones.
The film’s world premiere took place at the Sundance Festival in 2020. It is not yet known whether the film will be shown in Russia.
Watch four excerpts from Welcome to Chechnya – about how the evacuation of people was organized.
“We had to hide people because they were being hunted”
“When you’re abducted, tortured, it changes you”
“I can’t speak my language anymore”
“25 people a month to get is a lot”
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