Documentary giving voice to silent survivors of the LGBTQ + purge in Chechnya – the Calvert Journal


Silent voice had planned to have its Russian premiere at the famous Artdocfest in Moscow, founded by famous documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky. The film eventually received the festival’s jury prize, but the screening itself was canceled amid continued threats from Chechen anti-LGBTQ + activists. To date, very few Russians have seen the film. “We were in contact with a journalist in Russia and created a secure link which was only available for a few hours. In this way, he was able to show the film to 20-30 people in an apartment, ”explains Silent voiceexecutive producer David Hurst. He sees hope in these small acts of resistance. But because of events like these, as well as news on the assassination of a Chechen opponent in Lille in January 2020, during the post-production of Silent voice, the filmmakers decided to hide Valerik’s true identity. Hurst says the events in Lille prompted him to seek help from the French secret police. “They put a watch on Reka [Valerik] and the team, to make sure that the Chechen authorities do not pursue us. But it looks like they’ve got other issues, ”he said half-jokingly.

With David France Welcome to Chechnya, Silent voice is the second documentary on the anti-LGBTQ + purge in the Caucasus Republic to premiere last year. Besides international attention, Valerik and Hurst don’t believe that systemic change will happen anytime soon. Instead, what they hope is that Chechen mothers who have lost children to the purge will see Silent voice On the screen. “I dedicated the film to all these mothers who have lost their sons and daughters, who do not know where their children are,” says Valerik.

Silent Voice is screened at the New East Cinema at the Barbican Center in London on Wednesday August 11, 2021. For more information, Click here.


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