The Armenian National Platform of the EaP CSF released a statement to condemn the decision on withdrawing the non-competition programme “Armenians: Internal and External View” from the Golden Apricot Film Festival.
The programme in question featured the screening of almost 40 films, including the documentary “Listen to Me: Untold Stories beyond Hatred”, and the fictional film “Apricot Groves”, both touching upon the LGBT topic. As the NGO Pink Armenia reported, the Union of Cinematographers of Armenia (UCA), which was supposed to host the programme within the premises of Malyan Theatre, requested the removal of the two LGBT-themed films from the programme as a condition to go ahead with the screening.
Despite the importance of the social issues covered by the films, the UCA refused to host the non-competition programme, allegedly due to the ongoing mourning of the late UCA President Ruben Gevorgyants who passed away on 23 May. The circumstances of this decision suggest that the above-mentioned events are the result of the pressure exerted by certain influential circles within the country.
According to the Armenian National Platform, it is a clear example of censorship and discrimination that needs to be adequately addressed. The representatives of the film industry shared the same concerns in a joint letter, where they also called for the immediate reintroduction of the full programme in the film festival.
Taking into consideration that the incident was preceded by a number of other events of concern, in particular the postponement of adopting the Draft Laws on Equal Rights and Domestic Violence, the AM NP calls on the Armenian authorities to fulfill their international commitments. The incident has a negative impact on the reputation of the country and runs contrary to the process of Armenia’s joining the Creative Europe programme.
With hopes to restore the Golden Apricot Film Festival as a free and independent platform for expression, the Armenian NP appealed to the authorities to comply with the EU-Armenia cooperation agenda and prevent any limitations on artistic freedom. In the same vein, the National Platform called on organizers of Golden Apricot Film Festival to remain committed to the values, due to which the festival has gained a high level of international recognition and to better involve civil society to confront any pressure on artistic community.