Russia’s Top Documentary Fest Pulls Gay Chechen Film After Threats

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04/05/2021

Russia’s premier documentary film festival has pulled a movie about a gay MMA fighter from Chechnya from its lineup after receiving threats over it. “Silent Voice” tells the story of Khawaj, a promising young MMA fighter who is forced to flee his home region to Belgium after his brother finds out he’s gay and promises to kill him. Artdocfest’s Moscow organizers told the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper Sunday that a man who identified himself as “Suliman” asked festival management to remove the documentary from the festival program. “People in Chechnya are dissatisfied. If the film is shown, there will be serious consequences,” the organizers quoted the man as telling them. Artdocfest director Vitaly Mansky said Monday that “due to the circumstances” organizers have been “forced” to pull the film from the Moscow festival’s lineup. The St. Petersburg Artdocfest, meanwhile, was forced to cancel their screening of the film after a self-styled “anti-gay” activist filed a complaint with Russia’s consumer protection watchdog, alleging that the festival was promoting “LGBT values” among minors and violating anti-coronavirus restrictions.

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