LGBTnews talked to the film director of censored documentary film “Listen to me: Untold Stories beyond Hatred”.
We should recall that during the meeting with journalists which was held before the opening ceremony of “Golden Apricot” Yerevan international film festival, head of film festival, Harutyun Khachatryan, stated that Armenia’s Cinematoghraphers’ Union had announced that due to the passing of the group’s former director, Rouben Gevorgyants, the group was in mourning and would cancel an off-competition screening of two LGBT-themed films entitled “Listen to me: Untold Stories beyond Hatred” and “Apricot Groves”. Because of the triggered public pressure, the Film Festival decided to cancel the entire programme of off-competition screening of 40 films.
-Before you presented the film to be screened in the festival, did you think it was possible for the screening to be cancelled?
I didn’t think about it, I didn’t even have any worries at all, and I wasn’t concerned about it while shooting the film. On the contrary, I thought it was necessary for the film to be screened for our society. It is significant and essential to raise this issue. I didn’t think there would be any pressure. Even though I was aware of all the problems, I didn’t think such kind of things would happen. I didn’t even imagine that.
– According to the authorities of “Golden Apricot”, they cancelled the screening of the films due to “public pressure”. Is it really a trustworthy statement?
– I don’t agree that the majority of the society demanded to cancel the screening of those films. Yesterday at night I came across with photos of the opening ceremony of the festival, some groups were protesting, someone was saying that the voice of the majority should be taken into consideration etc.
First of all, no one has right to speak on behalf of the majority of Armenian people. Armenians are quite tolerant, only a little part of them agrees with those people. Only about one-fifth of Armenians live in our country, and even Armenian authorities do not have right to speak on Armenian people’s behalf. It is not true that a verified percent of Armenian society and, moreover, Armenian people agree with them, it is quite argumentative.
Thus, I really do not agree with those justifications. And, by the way, the film was somehow created particularly for them. I would really recommend them to watch the film because they are just opposing the freedom of speech by this rejection. This rejection does not only refer to depriving LGBTI community from speech. Do those people realize that they might also be silenced one day in consequence of those prohibitions?
– Could such policy of Festival and Cinematoghraphers’ Union be considered as a backward for arts and the society? What consequences might this precedent have?
–I believe our society is right on the opposite position. Our society wants to move on, seeks to live with all the elements of supposed democracy. Our society has a complicated and wide outlook, and some groups of people, nevertheless, try to impose their ideas on the society.
Not only LGBT community is subjected to violence; various problems like that are used to prevent community development and progress. I strongly believe that Armenian society is going to be absolutely different. It differs now as well. We are just in an absurd situation where groups of people can suddenly speak loudly about the opinion of the 90% of the society.
I don’t know why they cancelled the screening of the films. What were they afraid of? I don’t even understand the opinion of Cinematoghraphers’ Union, because they brought mourning as a reason for it. But that is the Cinematoghraphers’ Union, and if it doesn’t perform for films and for screening the films, then what is it generally for? How could the Cinematoghraphers’ Union refuse to screen any films? Is that an investigator or what? Its name is Cinematoghraphers’ Union, do you understand that?
Refusing to screen those films and bringing absurd reasons were out of Cinematoghraphers’ Union’s functions. It shouldn’t be this way. By doing so, the Cinematoghraphers’ Union proved that they have nothing to do with modern film tendency; it is just an absurd body deriving from Soviet Union and stayed there till today.
All the rules of organizing the film festival were broken. Is it the Cinematoghraphers’ Union that should determine the types of films to be shot, which issues are more important or which are worth screening and which ones can be just thrown away?
Most strangely, those methods have already been consumed. They have nothing to do with our community and our society. However, they are still being applied. Isn’t it obvious that the society doesn’t follow those antique rules? Those rules do not work for this society anymore. However, the film will be spread and be screened more.
I would like to express my gratitude to those people, who made those demonstrations and complaints, to those ones, who as if terrorized the Cinematoghraphers’ Union and the “Golden Apricot”, because you once more showed that the situation in the sphere of Armenian cinematography is quite ridiculous. You also once more reminded all of us that we should be more attentive about the people surrounding us, that we should refer directly and regularly to different problems existing in our society through films and, eventually, we will make you realize that restrictions will not help you to cover those problems.