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New short film highlights the plight of gay men in Chechnya

By Ross Semple

A new short film about the attempted genocide of gay men in Chechnya hopes to raise awareness of what is happening in the Russian republic.

Horrifying accounts of brutality and killings have been emerging from Chechnya over the last month, after Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 gay and bisexual men aged 16-50 had been detained by authorities over the last few months.

A newspaper now claimed over the weekend to have a list of more than 30 gay men who have been executed by the authorities or their own families during the terrifying campaign of violence.

Unchechen is a three minute film which has been created by the award-winning Inkbrew Productions and tells the harrowing story of the entrapment and interrogation of Khamzat, a public servant who works on the census.

Take Back, a theatre collective led by Julie Hesmondhalgh, commissioned a stage version of Unchechen which was performed at Contact, Manchester in May 2017.  The response to the piece was so strong that it created a momentum to film the piece, in order for it to reach a much wider audience.  Stephen M Hornby, the original writer, adapted it for screen and recruited Inkbrew Productions and Digital Stage to make the film.  Dean Gregory (Hamlet, Royal Exchange Manchester) and Martin Green (Green Room Creative Productions) play the lead roles.

Alex Markham, Director digitalSTAGE, said: “I’m sickened by what’s happening in Chechnya, but, like a lot of people, I felt impotent. 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.”

Stephen M Hornby, writer and director of “Unchechen”, said: “The State organised extermination of gay men in Chechnya is a horrific ghost from World War Two.  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.

“This is an emotional story to connect people to what’s happening and hopefully stimulate a response.”

Horrifying stories continue to emerge from Chechnya. Last week a gay teenager died after being pushed off a balcony by his uncle.

The 17-year-old teenager was thrown from his home’s ninth floor balcony after his uncle discovered that he was a gay man.

Watch the short film, Unchechen, below:

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