On the eve of London Pride, Bertha DocHouse teams up with BBC Storyville to discuss the persecution the LGBTQ+ community faces in Chechnya.
Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge lays bare the Russian Republic's deadly war on gays. Countless victims have been killed and hundreds more are missing. With the LGBTQ community living in fear and secrecy, this brave and searing film follows the underground team fighting to rescue them - before it’s too late.
Since 2017, Chechnya’s tyrannical leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has waged a depraved operation to “cleanse the blood” of LGBTQ+ Chechens, overseeing a government-directed campaign to detain, torture and execute them.
With no help from the Kremlin and only faint global condemnation, activists have taken matters into their own hands. From a safe house in a secret location in Russia, they risk their own lives by running rescue missions into Chechnya and providing temporary shelter.
Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge follows the extraordinary bravery of the activists and Chechens whose lives are being threatened. Deploying a groundbreaking new digital ‘face double’ technique that has never been used before in documentary filmmaking, the identities of those most at risk are protected.
By the close of the film, 151 people have been located with the help of the LGBTQ+ pipeline. Yet 40,000 others remain in hiding, in need of protection.
The director David France joined us for an online Q&A panel. Joining him was Olga Baranova of the Moscow Community Center and Paul Dillane of Rainbow Railroad. The discussion was hosted by Shahmir Sanni.
If you're motivated to take action by the issues surrounding this film, you can also check out the campaign around this film here: welcometochechnya.com/takeaction
This preview screening is co-presented with BBC Storyville.