Since 2016, people have disappeared in Chechnya due to their sexual orientation. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, with the consent of Vladimir Putin who looks the other way, attacks the LGBTQ collective ruthlessly. LGBTQ people, the targets of his persecution, are detained and tortured. Some disappear and are never heard of again. Others are allowed to live, with the consequences of torture and fear of reprisals, both for themselves and for their unprotected and frightened families. Faced with the difficulty of surviving and denouncing the genocide, a group of activists are helping people to get out of the country. But, despite the risk involved, they hope to find a solution, which inevitably requires a torture survivor to go public, with the danger that it entails for that person and his family.
It is impossible to watch the documentary Welcome to Chechnya without shuddering. The “cleansing of blood” promoted by Kadyrov reminds us of past times so much that it is hard to believe that it still happens nowadays, even more so in Europe. This documentary is both a denunciation of the situation in Chechnya and a vital portrait of its humble heroes. It is also a portrait of its survivors who decided to fight against the injustice and oppression that they had to endure, because of their sexual orientation, despite the fact that it could get them killed. Narrated and shot in a nervous, first-person perspective, this feature allows viewers to witness the events, fearing that the protagonists might not achieve their goal. David France’s documentary, which received many honors at festivals such as Berlin and Sundance, arrives at Americana to remind us that there is still a long way to go, especially in some countries, before the LGBTQ community can live in peace.
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Original title: Welcome to Chechnya
Direction: David France
Screenplay: David France, Tyler H. Walk
Cinematography: Askold Kurov, Derek Wiesehahn
Subtitles: Flamingo Films
Contact: Flamingo Films
2021: Shortlist Oscar – Documentary and Visual effects
2020: Berlinale – Audience Award (Panorama) and Amnesty International Film Prize
2020: Hot Docs – Audience Award
2020: Festival de Sundance – Documentary Film Editing Award