On June 30, HBO released David France’s new documentary film Welcome to Chechnya to U.S. viewers. It tells the story of Moscow activists David Isteyev and Olga Baranova, as they work to secretly evacuate LGBTQ people from Russia’s Chechnya, taking them to temporary shelters in Moscow or abroad. In order to maintain the anonymity of the film’s main subjects, the director changed their voices, used pseudonyms, and — in a first for a documentary filmmaking — hid their faces with the faces of other people (a kind of deepfake in reverse). The documentary itself was shot on a cheap Sony camera — during some of the filming in Chechnya, the director pretended to be a tourist. To get the most dangerous shots, they used a GoPro or a cellphone camera. The documentary’s world premiere took place at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Whether or not the film will be shown…

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