Welcome to Chechnya is a powerful, unflinching look at one of the most dire contemporary human rights crises and those activists putting their lives on the line to combat it. Academy Award-nominated David France renders a work with resolute focus and astonishing access, unfolding the depth of evil at work in a cold, oppressive Russian republic yet to be globally addressed.
The film interrogates the underreported atrocities rumbling there; initiated by a hateful government headed by Ramzan Kadyrov and harbored by a population under an umbrella of silent complicity. A blossoming campaign of mass kidnap, torture, and execution of LGBTQIA+ Chechnyans is laid bare with breathtaking urgency, alongside the struggles of those rising up to oppose the brutality.
Ripe and potent, France shows us the boots-on-the-ground operations of a sprawling network of heroes helping queer people under attack in Chechnya search for solace. Audiences witness their undercover missions to extract, harbor, and deliver those at risk from persecution. The stakes could not be higher in their work, which plays out on screen with paralyzing tension, moving bravery, and unimaginable loss as France categories the broad, risky, and richly humane work of these little-known activists. With a rigorous approach to maintaining anonymity, the film bends our very understanding of identity. This is a daring and awe-inspiring work that tells a story crucial to understanding how gay history is being made in the present tense.
– Ashley Hoyle
2020 Berlin Film Festival