Winner 2020

Welcome to Chechnya

Public Square Films, Ninety Thousand Words, Maylo Films, BBC Storyville and HBO Documentary Films

Filmed in secret with the use of hidden cameras and cell phones, Welcome to Chechnya follows a group of undercover activists who risk their own safety to expose the brutal ongoing purge of LGBTQ Chechens in the closed Russian republic that remains under the tyrannical rule of Ramzam Kadryov. Directed by David France and produced by Alice Henty, Joy A. Tomchin, and Askold Kurov, the documentary confronts a government-directed system of abduction, torture, and execution that has received scant attention from the Russian Federation or from international watchdog agencies. The filmmakers trace the indefatigable efforts of activists who deliver rescued victims to safe houses and provide visa assistance for their refuge. In the process, the film employs innovative techniques of artificial intelligence and facial replacement visual effects to protect the identities of the subjects while allowing viewers to see authentic facial features, expressions, and emotions. For a powerful, harrowing story of ruthless persecution, audacious courage, and human survival, Welcome to Chechnya wins a Peabody Award.