'Inappropriate for screening' Documentary about 1920s famine released online after Russia’s Culture Ministry revokes theatrical license
“Famine,” a new documentary film from the U.S.-government-funded media outlet Current Time about the famine that ravaged Russia in the early 1920s, has been released on YouTube after the Russian Culture Ministry revoked its theatrical distribution certificate.
Writer Alexander Arkhangelsky, journalist Maksim Kurnikov, and director Tatyana Sorokina produced the crowdfunded film. After Russia’s Culture Ministry issued the picture a distribution certificate in late September, a scheduled screening in October was canceled in advance “for technical reasons,” Kurnikov relayed on Twitter. In November, it was reported that the Culture Ministry had revoked the film’s distribution certificate due to “numerous complaints from citizens” who allegedly claimed the film was “inappropriate for screenings.”
According to Alexander Arkhangelsky, in the letter notifying the film’s creators of the license revocation, the Culture Ministry claimed that the film contains “information whose distribution is banned by Russian law.” Arkhangelsky noted that the film contains no original text and consists entirely of quotations and information from documents available in open archives.
At least five million people are believed to have died during the famine of the early 1920s. Multiple international organizations provided aid to hunger-stricken Russian citizens, including the American Relief Administration (headed by Herbert Hoover), which sent food, medicine, and clothing.