This vital, harrowing film embeds with everyday citizens as they band together to bring LGBT+ residents of Chechnya to safety.
Director: David France
In-person: Director David France
Fest Year: 2020
There are no gay men in Chechnya, if we are to trust the words of the man who leads the volatile Russian republic. “To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.” Over the past three years, Ramzan Kadyrov’s government has rounded up, tortured, and killed the republic’s LGBT+ residents. In response to this terrifying development, a group of Chechen citizens band together to form an underground network that ushers LGBT+ community members out of the region and to safety. In Welcome to Chechnya, director David France (How to Survive a Plague, T/F 2011) embeds with these brave activists to document their harrowing rescues and elaborate handoffs, high risk efforts in which a simple mistake—contact with the wrong government official, the misplacement of a SIM card—could end in disaster. France’s vital, present-tense film is essential, not only for showing that this contested genocide is very much real but also for tenderly capturing the love that, despite the terror, still flourishes among Chechnya’s LBGT+ residents. (CB) Please note: Welcome to Chechnya contains potentially triggering images of physical and sexual violence toward the LGBT+ community.