Every voice of Ukrainian filmmakers is a contribution to the mission of cultural diplomacy, especially when it comes to films that tell the world about war and have a clear humanistic focus.
Recently, censorship cases – bans of screenings of our colleagues' films – have become more frequent. The documentaryThis Rain Will Never Stop, directed by Alina Horlova, was selected for the programme of the 16th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic). The screenings were to take place at the Broadway Cinema, the main venue of the event.
However, on November 15, 2022, representatives of the location informed the festival organisers about the cancellation of screenings of two films, including the film This Rain Will Never Stop. The act of censorship and interference in the programme was explained by the "propaganda of war."
Organisers of the film festival, the Human Rights Movement "Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan", issued an official press release condemning the baseless ban, declaring a violation of the current constitution and the inadmissibility of human rights and freedoms restrictions. The appeals of the organising committee to the Department of Cinematography of the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy of the Kyrgyz Republic also remained unanswered.
We remind that the film This Rain Will Never Stop was included in the Docudays UA-2020 programme. This is the story of 20-year-old Andrii Suleiman, who, together with his family, was caught between two wars, in Syria and Ukraine. The work won Best Feature-Length Film at Festival dei Popoli (2020) and IDFA Award for Best Film in the First Appearance competition. The jury of the 16th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Bishkek awarded the film the Grand Prix.
Also, recently, due to state censorship, the screening of the feature film Butterfly Vision (dir. Maksym Nakonechnyi) at the Cairo International Film Festival (Egypt) was cancelled. The film tells the story of an aerial reconnaissance expert who survived a war crime and returned from captivity. Butterfly Vision premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Freedom of speech is one of those values that Ukrainians are fighting for right now. We strongly condemn any manifestations of censorship, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, and attempts to limit Ukrainian filmmakers' voices on international platforms. We express our solidarity with film crews and event organisers who defy the bans and call for the resumption of screenings.