A gay man who survived persecution in Chechnya received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival.
Maxim Lapunov was one of the panelists following the screening of Welcome to Chechnya, a documentary by David France about the violent persecution of LGBT community within the Russian republic.
Over 150 people have reportedly been detained, and some killed, in Chechnya since 2017 when the Chechen government first began a "cleansing" campaign against queer people. Lapunov, a Russian who was among those captured and tortured, is one of the few survivors to have come forward publicly about his ordeal.
Sundance marked the world premiere of Welcome to Chechnya, which "shadows a group of activists risking unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBT pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic," according to its festival description.
The documentary, for which filmmakers obtained unprecedented access to survivors, used digital blurring to mask faces and protect their identities. Early reviews have praised the film as "devastatingly brave" and praised France as "America’s foremost documentarian on LGBT issues."