Russia’s ArtDocFest cancels Donbass film screening after nationalist protests

Russia's ArtDocFest cancels Donbass film screening after nationalist protests
Vitaly Mansky, head of ArtDocFest

11 December 2017

Russia’s largest documentary film festival has cancelled one of its screenings following protests by Russian nationalists.

The organisers of ArtDocFest pulled a showing of Yevgeny Titarenko’s War for Peace (Vojna Radi Mira), which follows Ukrainian volunteers fighting in the country’s Donbass region. The screening was due to take place on 11 December at a cultural centre owned by the Czech Embassy in Moscow.

Organisers said that the cancellation was not politically motivated, but accused activists and media outlets of creating an “unhealthy atmosphere” around the screening.

“The show’s organisers felt that the tension surrounding this screening could lead to undesirable incidents”, they said in a statement. “They have decided along with the ArtDocFest directors to cancel the showing for the comfort and safety of our guests.”

The decision followed protests by Russian nationalists, who forced their way into an earlier screening and sprayed a foul-smelling liquid into the auditorium.

Three members of Russian nationalist group SERB gatecrashed a screening of Beata Bubenets’ Bullet’s Flight, (Polyot Puli) which also follows the armed conflict in Donbass.

They told journalists they’d targeted the film because it portrayed Ukranian volunteer fighters who “fight for Ukraine and are are killing Russians.”

ArtDocFest will run between 6 — 12 December in the Russian cities of Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. You can watch the trailer to the film here.