May 10, 2017 | Arts / Entertainment

Short film explores horrors faced by gay men in Chechnya

Unchechen, short film
 
Unchechen is a short film designed to challenge viewers to think about the ongoing crisis faced by gay men in Chechnya.
 
During the past few months, horror stories have come out of the Russian republic about the abuse, torture and, in some cases, murder of gay men at the hands of the government. Stories of concentration camps have emerged. The country's president, Ramzan Kadyrov, has reportedly called for a full on purge of homosexuals by the end of May, 
 
“Gay men are being treated like animals," Human Rights First's Shawn Gaylord said. "They’re rounded up, they’re detained, they’re tortured, a few have been murdered. All of this has been inflicted upon them by the very people sworn to protect them."
 
The short film was created by Take Back, a theater collective led by Julie Hesmondhalgh, and originally performed in Manchester, England. The response to the piece was overwhelming, and the script was adapted by Stephen M Hornby, the original writer, Inkbrew Productions and digitalStage for an online audience.. 
 
“I’m sickened by what’s happening in Chechnya, but, like a lot of people, I felt impotent," explained Alex Markham, Director of digitalSTAGE. "I wanted to do something immediate and practical to offer solidarity. I hope this film will get people donating to help some more of these men get to safety.”
 
“The State organised extermination of gay men in Chechnya is a horrific ghost from World War II," added Hornby. "But it’s real. The men fleeing from it are too terrified to go on camera, and so I wanted to try to fill the silence with something that attempts to make this crisis real and human."
 
The film is under four minutes long. It tells the story of Khamzat, a public servant who was entrapped and interrogated.
 

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