Tuesday, April 16, 2024
LGBTQ+ RightsMovies

‘Welcome to Chechnya’ is a must-watch docu-thriller

Director David France’s Welcome to Chechnya tells the story of the current anti-LGBT pogrom raging in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

The film follows a small group of activists risking extreme peril to rescue victims from a targeted campaign of torture and brutality.

In this searing documentary, Academy Award®-nominated director David France (How To Survive A Plague) brings us a terrifying real-life thriller that shadows a group of brave activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya. In recent years, an unknown number of LGBTQ people in the republic have suffered detention, torture and sometimes death at the hands of the authorities. But a small network of queer activists have mobilized into action, smuggling people in need out of their communities, securing visas and sheltering them in safe houses.

Shot with astonishing access, largely with hidden cameras that keep rolling throughout every moment of escape, and employing a revolutionary face-swapping technique to protect the anonymity of its endangered subjects, this documentary exposes these underreported atrocities, while highlighting an extraordinary group of heroic people confronting a brutal system.

Critics rave:

“VITAL, PULSE-QUICKENING. Taking the form of an anxiously in-the-moment docu-thriller, tracking and braiding the escape narratives of several human subjects in the present tense. In sequences more racked with nail-digging tension than any fictional prison-break film, France’s camera unobtrusively follows the activists on their runs into and out of Chechnya, complete with subterfuge, disguise and breath-halting border crossings. STUNNING.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“DEVASTATING AND BRAVE. An emotional gut-punch and a technical wonder all at once. Welcome to Chechnya is a vital and urgent portrait of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, and the world needs to hear about it.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire

“A collective profile in courage. The sense of danger experienced by these underground-railroad facilitators, the people who use them and the director himself himself is palpable. Everything feels as if it’s happening in a fraught, frightening present tense.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone

“DARING. These high-stakes operations play out with the intensity of a Bourne thriller.” – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

Watch the trailer here.

Watch Welcome to Chechnya on HBO.

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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