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Welcome to Chechnya

107 min.
Year of Production:
Olga Baranova
David Isteev
Maxim Lapunov
Production Company:
Public Square Films
Berlinale Section:
Berlinale Category:
Documentary Film
Teddy Award:
TEDDY Activist Award

In 2017, the LGBTQI* community, human rights defenders and allies all over the world were shocked by the devastating news of crimes being committed in the Russian republic of Chechnya. In a coordinated action, the authorities were rounding up gay and bisexual men and women, and taking them to illegal prison facilities where they were tortured and forced to out others, with the result that they were either executed or released to their families where they were often subjected to “honour killings”. In an interview, Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied all accusations, claiming that there are no queer people in Chechnya.

David France’s film is the first documentary about those who have come together to save lives – both their own and those of others. This film is a raw, emotionally arresting account of the enormous risks and setbacks but also the victories won against an ultra-conservative society and government. Following rescue operations undertaken by several courageous activists, the film is meticulous in unveiling
reality in today’s Chechnya as it unfolds, and excels at making palpable the fear and the hope in the fight for survival.

BIOGRAFIE David France

The filmmaker, non-fiction author and investigative journalist was born in Michigan, USA in 1959. His directing debut, How to Survive a Plague, a documentary about the beginning of the HIV epidemic and the activist work undertaken by Act Up, was released in 2012 to great critical acclaim. Alongside numerous other awards, in 2013 the film was nominated for an Oscar. In 2016, he published the eponymous book which also won awards including the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. His journalistic work has inspired other films, such as Frank Pierson’s TV movie Soldier’s Girl.

FILMOGRAFIE David France (selection)

2020 Welcome to Chechnya  2012 How to Survive a Plague  

David France @IMDb
Welcome to Chechnya @IMDb
Interview with David France on 'Welcome to Chechnya'
The TEDDY Activist Award goes to David France for 'Welcome to Chechnya'
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