I have mixed emotions over the fact that I was able to watch the "controversial" film Parada tonight — a film screening that, unfortunately, did not take place in Yerevan. The film was screened as part of a festival for European audiences, and I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time.
The mixed feelings are not about the film itself. I thought it was a great film — an amazing film — that more than anything else needs to be screened in Yerevan. I can't remember the last time I laughed AND cried so hard in one film. Parada ("The Parade"), though centring around an attempt by a group of activists to organize a gay pride parade in Belgrade, touches upon so many subjects, many of which will appear somewhat familiar to Armenian audiences... and more reason why this film has to be screened in Armenia. And this is why I have mixed feelings: because I was able to watch the film while those in Armenia could not (though I am told that "many in Armenia have seen it online via not licensed Russian websites").
There were scenes that brought back memories for me of events in Armenia in the last year (notably, the attack on DIY and the attempt to organize a Diversity March), which were difficult to watch. And what happens at the end nearly broke my heart (but I won't give away any spoilers).
The other thing that broke my heart was a sentence uttered by the director, Srđan Dragojević, who I was lucky enough to exchange a few words with after the screening. When I asked him whether he knew that attempts to screen the film in Armenia were unsuccessful as a result of pressure and protests, he said he knew, but "I didn't know Armenia was so homophobic". He then seemed to liken Armenia to Russia by adding the film will "probably be banned in Russia". Not. good. news. at. all. I tried to explain that things in Armenia had ballooned only in recent years, but I only had two minutes of his time as he was rushing off somewhere else, and I wasn't able to get into any more details. He did mention, however, that German embassies in countries where human rights is an issue were given directives to screen the film. Yes, you read that right: "where human rights is an issue"...
Now, more than ever, this film should be screened in Armenia. If this sounds like a plea, it's because it is — come on, German Embassy in Yerevan and EU Delegation in Armenia, do the right thing: screen Parada in Armenia. It is an important film and one Armenian audiences HAVE to see.