Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yerevan Screening of Serbian Film on LGBT Rights Cancelled AGAIN

Sometimes it seems that it takes years for things to happen in Armenia, while other times things develop so quickly that if you blinked you just might miss the latest development.

One of these developments is the screening of an apparently controversial film called Parada, an “internationally acclaimed Serbian drama dealing with the delicate subject of LGBT rights,” according to an Oct. 15, 2012 press release issued by the EU Delegation in Armenia and the Germany Embassy in Yerevan, which planned on screening the film on Oct. 17 and 18 at Congress Hotel in Yerevan.
“The film is part of the European Union activities for promoting human rights awareness in Armenia, and relates to non-discrimination of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons. The screenings, initially planned for the second week of October, were postponed when the agreed venues were cancelled the events due to public pressure,” read the press release.

Note: the screenings were postponed once already because the venues that agreed to host the event backed out. This is nothing new. In fact, it brings back not-so-fond memories of the cancellation of the Azerbaijani Film Festival in Yerevan in 2010.

And so, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to find out on Facebook and then through the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia website that the event, oh, was cancelled again.

“The screenings of the film Parada scheduled for 17 and 18 October have been cancelled. The EU Delegation to Armenia and the Embassy of Germany to Yerevan apologise to the interested public for the last-moment notice, caused by the sudden withdrawal of Congress Hotel from the initiative, due to unidentified pressure,” reads press release #2.

Not being allowed to screen this film — especially as it is “part of the EU activities related to Human Rights Day 2012 on the topic of non-discrimination and tolerance” — is nothing short of censorship.

According to a post on Unzipped: Gay Armenia on the earlier cancellation of the screening, the “same groups and individuals who attacked Diversity March (such as Hayazn Union), who justified DIY bombing and so on and so on” are the same people who planned a protest demonstration in front of the Germany Embassy and who planned to “disrupt the screening of the film in the Club and at the Yerevan Puppet Theatre.”

At this point, I don’t know what to say. This is beyond ridiculous. Unzipped called it a “tragicomedy,” but I don’t see the comic elements. It just makes me want to cry.


  1. I guess it is worth to try organize something like online screening of Parada

    1. Definitely! Though I have also been informed by local human rights activists that other venues have been suggested and the film will be screened in Yerevan in the near future — that is, if they can find a venue that will agree to screen it of course :(

  2. The Yerevan Press Club issued a statement today, Oct. 24, 2012, on the matter (I particularly like the concluding paragraph):

    "Yerevan Press Club shares the indignation of the Armenian non-governmental organizations that disseminated on October 23 a letter, condemning another refusal to hostthe screening of the film “Parada”. We consider the obstacles raised for such public events as a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression.

    "It has been only a year since we appreciated that the practice of refusing provision of premises for political motives has almost stopped. And today, the Armenian society faces yet a new, not less disgraceful challenge - an artificial restriction on disseminating information about issues of diversity and personal freedom.

    "After 20 years of gaining independence and proclaiming democratic development as the main path for nation building, the Armenian statehood turns unable to ensure the protection of its’ citizens’ rights from intolerance and xenophobia. The “fearfulness” of the management of the halls, which refuse the film screening, can be explained by nothingless than this. In this regard, one should remember the inaction of law enforcement bodies towards the attacks against the Asparez Journalists' Club of Gyumri and the Vanadzor Branch of Helsinki Citizen's Assembly, which in April 2012 provided their halls for showing films “disliked” by some people.

    "It is inadmissible for the authorities, who strive for European standards of constituting the state and public life, to pander to those persons and groups, who assume the right to ban, threat, exercise violence and who dictate their own visions of what others should andshould not do."

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This IWPR article, published on Oct. 29, 2012, seems to confirm that after 3 attempts, the film has not yet been screened in Yerevan: Let's hope we hear some news otherwise in the near future...