(Photo Credits: Screengrab from HBO’s Official YouTube Account)

Over three years ago, Novaya Gazetas report about Chechnya’s anti-gay purge shook the world. The exposé said that the authorities in Chechnya had been rounding up and detaining gay men, torturing them with electric shocks, and in some instances, killing them. Chechnya allegedly also has several concentration camps for gay men, according to Novaya Gazeta, one of which is located at 996 Kadyrov Street in Argun—reportedly a former military headquarters. 

All throughout this horror, this brutality, a group of LGBTQ activists rose to the occasion and put their own lives on the line by working undercover to rescue victims. Said LGBTQ activists helped gay men on the run by providing them with safe houses and visa assistance to escape persecution. And today, for the first time since the news regarding the atrocities had surfaced, we get a glimpse of their fight and how it was for them through Academy Award-nominated director David France’s (How to Survive a Plague, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson) documentary titled Welcome to Chechnya. 

Take a look at the trailer below.

A film reviewer named Abby Olcese described Welcome to Chechnya as “nail-biting, harrowing and vital filmmaking.” Further, she said: 

“With comprehensive access and a vital narrative, Welcome to Chechnya is an important work of journalism. David France uses lessons he’s learned from directing and producing his previous films to make a film that’s frightening in its truth, and painful in its depiction of its subjects’ reality. It’s the kind of life-risking superheroism that makes its viewers put whatever petty squabbles define our lives aside, take notice, and hopefully be inspired to take some kind of action.”

Welcome to Chechnya had its world premiere in this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it won the best editing award. It also won the Panorama Audience Award for Best Documentary at Berlinale last February. 

Public Square Films’ Welcome to Chechnya was produced by Alice Henty, Joy A. Tomchin, Askold Kurov, and David France. It is scheduled to hit HBO this June 30, 2020. To know more about the documentary, click here.

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