EXCLUSIVE: HBO Documentary Films has acquired North American television and streaming rights to Welcome to Chechnya, the documentary by David France, the Oscar-nominated director of How to Survive a Plague and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. The deal was struck in advance of the film making its world premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition section of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
The film has been set for a June debut on HBO. The searing documentary shadows a group of brave activists who risk their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya. With unfettered access and a commitment to protecting anonymity, this documentary exposes under-reported atrocities, while highlighting an extraordinary group of heroic people confronting crushing brutality.
France said he is “thrilled to have partnered with HBO to help shed light on this ongoing humanitarian crisis. Welcome to Chechnya needed a distributor that is fearless and believes in the power of social justice filmmaking.”
What France found in Chechnya is that gay and transgender citizens are targeted as part of a deadly “cleansing” campaign. Their only ally: the group of LGBTQ activists who work undercover and at great personal danger to rescue the victims of this targeted aggression. Through a succession of safe houses and a global underground network of collaborators, the LGBTQ advocates provide victims temporary safety and urgent visa assistance. Because fleeing Russia is their only chance for survival.
The deal was negotiated with HBO by Josh Braun for Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers. Welcome to Chechnya is a Public Square Films production, produced by Alice Henty, Joy A. Tomchin, Askold Kurov and France. It was edited by Tyler H. Walk with cinematography by Askold Kurov. The pic was co-produced by Igor Myakotin and Tyler H. Walk, and for HBO the executive producers are Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.