From Academy Award-nominated director David France (How to Survive a Plague, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson) comes Welcome to Chechnya, a powerful and eye-opening documentary about a group of activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya.
With unfettered access and a commitment to protecting anonymity, this documentary exposes Chehnya’s underreported atrocities while highlighting a group of people who are confronting brutality head-on. The film follows these LGBTQ+ activists as they work undercover to rescue victims and provide them with safe houses and visa assistance to escape persecution.
Welcome to Chechnya is a Public Square Films production, directed by David France and produced by Alice Henty, Joy A. Tomchin, Askold Kurov, and David France.
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Go Deeper Into Chechnya
In this HBO Real Sports segment featured in Welcome to Chechnya, correspondant David Scott talks with Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov about the alleged torture of LGBTQ Chechens by the Russian republic's MMA fighters, and speaks with a journalist who is fighting to call out the ongoing persecution this community faces.
As the violence around Chechnya's anti-LGBTQ+ purge continues, brave activists and organizations are fighting daily to create a safer world for queer Chechens. We hope sharing these stories shines a spotlight on Chechnya and rallies the community to take action.
"Homophobia, racism, and xenophobia are still common occurrences — and not only in Russia. But there is a part of Russia where it is especially frightening.
In the North Caucasus, 100 percent of queer women experience psychological and physical violence in their families and 29 percent experience sexual violence in their families. We can change that. This is something that should not be in a healthy society."
"I work a lot with the survivors and refugees. And the only achievement for me is when I meet them two years later and realize that they are totally different people now.
They become more open-minded, they start to think that they have a right for this, a right for that... And I think: 'Why should I be scared?' If we gave someone a chance to live a totally different life and they use that chance — this makes me very happy."
"Trust yourself, choose yourself, love yourself, be yourself."
Rainbow Railroad played a key role in the events depicted in Welcome To Chechnya: Working on the ground directly in partnership with the Russian LGBT Network, Rainbow Railroad helped many victims of the 2017 purge escape to Canada and other safer countries — and continues to do so to this day.
"Every single time they would beat me, spit on me or humiliate me, trying to destroy me as an 'enemy of the state,' I felt my queer spirit fading away. I felt completely detached from the country that 'gave' me a birth but was happy to bury me alive. I felt betrayed. I felt angry. I felt hopeless.
Above all this, I had lost hope; it would 'get better in time' they say, but I did not have that strange and ephemeral substance — 'time.' Time was working against me."