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Moscow Official Bans Showing Of Pussy Riot Film At Leading Theater

“I deeply believe that a government cultural institution should not associate with those people who provoke such an ambiguous reaction and whose activity is based on the provocation of society,” Moscow’s top cultural official wrote in a letter to the director of the Gogol Center.

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A Moscow theater has been forced to cancel its premiere of the U.S.-made film Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer after receiving a letter from the city’s top cultural official saying theaters that receive state funding should not associate with people who seek to “provoke” society.

Kirill Serebrennikov, the director of the Gogol Center theater, announced the move on his Facebook page on Saturday and posted a copy of the letter. “Until recently, in all interviews, I would declare like a mantra: ‘There’s no censorship at the theater, there’s no censorship at the theater.’ That’s it, fuck, there’s censorship at the theater! Cynical, pointless and stupid,” he wrote.

The official letter, signed by Sergei Kapkov, the head of Moscow’s cultural department, demanded Serebrennikov cancel the showing of the film, which was set for Sunday afternoon, to be accompanied by a discussion with Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, two members of the opposition punk group released from prison last week.

Kapkov, seen as a relatively liberal official, wrote that he was “shocked” to learn of the film showing and discussion via social media. “I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the theater run by you is a government cultural institution…and financed from the city budget,” Kapkov wrote. “You, as the director of the institution, should show responsibility before the founders and, most importantly, before the audience.”

“I deeply believe that a government cultural institution should not associate with those people who provoke such an ambiguous reaction and whose activity is based on the provocation of society,” Kapkov wrote.

He continued: “I have no right to get mixed up in your repertoire politics, and I’ve never done that, but considering this showing is not part of the official schedule, I demand you cancel the showing of the documentary film ‘Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer’ and the discussion with the main heroes of the film.” Kapkov’s spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

The film, which premiered at the Sundance film festival, was produced and directed by Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin. It has been shortlisted for the Academy Award’s Best Documentary Feature category and has received wide critical acclaim for telling the story of one of the most notorious modern-day trials in Russia.

Pozdorovkin told BuzzFeed by email from Moscow, where had flown to attend the premiere, that he was “surprised” by the turn of events, but noted that two previous premieres were also forced to be cancelled.

Tolokonnikova tweeted: “They let us out, but won’t let us show a film about Pussy Riot. That’s the Russian government.”


Надя Толокно

@tolokno

Нас выпустили, но не дают показывать фильм про Pussy Riot. Российское государство.

/ Via

Serebrennikov, one of Russia’s leading directors who often criticizes the government in his work, despaired on his Facebook page as he announced the cancellation: “Now any freedom, any desire to find meaning, any desire to speak up disintegrates into hopeless gloom and darkness, which fills all the air around us and rules us. It seemed to us that somewhere — at the theater, in fashionable cafes, at home, with friends — there was still some free air…That’s it! Fuck! There’s no air!”

“It’s unfortunate we had to cancel this event. It’s really vile and gross to me. I never thought, to use the words of the classics, that I’d ‘fall into this shit.’ I call on all people, for whom still lives an understanding of honor and freedom, dignity and the right of an artist to create and speak freely, to unite and resist this darkness. With words, with art, in any way that helps.”

“And I hope that when all this shameful shit ends we, remembering it all, will laugh at ourselves and write the truth about this petty little time,” Serebrennikov wrote. “Experienced people tell me that because of our cowardice and laziness, this shit will never end.”

The two Pussy Riot women were released as part of a wide-reaching amnesty issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the lead-up to the Sochi Olympics in February. His critics have warned that the move was designed to win him good press while doing little to change the systemic repression within the country.

Tolokonnikova tweeted a copy of the letter.


Надя Толокно

@tolokno

“Мы должны ЧИНИТЬ МИР” ”

/ Via

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Miriam Elder is the world editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 5B5F EC17 C20B C11F 226D 3EBE 6205 F92F AC14 DCB1
Contact Miriam Elder at miriam.elder@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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