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Russian Culture Ministry bans ‘Famine’ documentary from theaters
The Russian Ministry of Culture has revoked the screening license issued to “Famine,” a documentary made by Alexander Alrkhangelsky, Maxim Kurnikov, and Tatiana Sorokina.
The film reconstructs the history of a famine that took millions of Russian lives during the Civil War in the 1920s. Affecting most severely the Volga and Southern Ural regions, the famine ended when the Soviet government appealed to the world community. The United States was one of the countries that heeded this call for help.
The ministry’s press release says that the film was banned in response to a public outcry, following “numerous complaints” from the public, whose members
point out that the film contains provocative and shocking audio-visual information. This, in the viewers’ opinion, can lead to an acute negative reaction in the society. In this connection, a decision was made to revoke the license.
Alexander Arkhangelsy, the screenwriter behind “Famine,” was among the first to learn that the film was being banned, and that it supposedly contains “information whose spread is prohibited by the federal law.” In a Facebook post, Arkhangelsky criticized the revocation:
What law is it, exactly, that forbids talking about the fact that there was a famine in 1921–1923? That more than five million people died, and that the world (far from the entire world, by the way) managed to overcome ideological barriers in solidarity with the suffering Russian people? And that, thanks to this, more than 10 million lives had been saved? This is a betrayal of our history and of our family memories.
Arkhangelsky pointed out that the film contains no narrative apart from quotations: the entire script is put together from the texts of documents found in Russia’s publicly accessible archives.
“Famine” is now banned from all Russian theaters. “We’re going to screen it in museums, galleries, and universities. We hope it might appear on YouTube towards the end of this year,” said the screenwriter.
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