14th Golden Apricot International Film Festival had included two LGBT-themed films in its “Armenians: Internal and External Views” program: “Listen to Me: Untold Stories beyond Hatred” documentary and “Apricot Groves” fiction.
However, the Union of Cinematographers in Armenia, that was to provide a space for the screening of the films, decided to censor the movies by claiming to remove those two films from the program, otherwise they would withdraw the whole program. The Union of Cinematographers informed that they are in mourning (on June 23 Rouben Gevorgyants, the ex-director of the Union, passed away), and they are not going to screen any movie. As a result, the “Golden Apricot” has decided to withdraw the whole program, which included around 40 movies covering not only LGBT issues, but also different social issues, issue of the Armenian Genocide, Nagorno Karabakh conflict, etc.
This is a result of the actions of small groups of people that are now against the Armenian cinematography. The decision of the Union of Cinematographers in Armenia in fact, shows, that they are protecting not the interests of Armenian cinematography but rather the people, who think that the movies cannot cover issues like LGBT.
The approach of these people clearly reminds the censorship that existed in the period of Soviet Union, where movie directors were forbidden to cover such themes as the Church or the Armenian Genocide were.
Understanding the fact that this is not only discrimination against Armenian LGBT community, and violation of freedom of expression and freedom to create, but also a slap to Armenian cinematography, we are calling upon Armenian filmmakers to express their standpoint towards this incident.
We are calling upon the RA Ministry of Culture, which is the official sponsor and supporter of the “Golden Apricot” festival, to condemn the incident, as well as take appropriate measures to prevent further incidents of censorship and re-establish the whole program in the festival. The “Golden Apricot” festival should review the existing collaboration with the Union of the Cinematographers in Armenia.
We are positive, that both the local and international participants and guests of the “Golden Apricot” festival will express their standpoint on this regard.