Welcome To Chechnya

this year's essential doc

One of the rare highlights at this year's Berlinale most definitely was the gripping “Welcome To Chechnya“ - the latest envelope-pushing documentary by acclaimed non-fiction filmmaker David France (How to Survive a Plague, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson). HBO will premiere his latest prime example of essential viewing on June 30.

Here's the official synopsis for you: “This searing documentary is 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, tens of thousands 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.”