Appeal of the Directorate of the Minsk IFF Listapad

Belarus is in a political, social, and economic crisis. The current government refused to recognize vote-rigging in the presidential elections on August 9, 2020. Alternative candidates were illegally imprisoned even before the start of the election campaign. The opposition, which responded with peaceful protests, was brutally suppressed by the security forces. During the dispersal of peaceful protests, people were killed, thousands were detained, and subjected to violence and torture, some of them disappeared. The resonance from cruelty, vote falsification, and pressure from the current government on civil society has been going on for the second week and is accompanied by daily protests and strikes. The Belarusians show impressive solidarity and cohesion and support each other.

We are experiencing a truly historic moment of the birth of a nation now. However, in conditions of total pressure and ignoring public demand, culture and art turned out to be the most vulnerable and despised spheres of the authorities. Pluralism of opinions and creative protests are suppressed. The most striking example of the pressure exerted is the Janka Kupała Theater, the main national theater, which, after expressing its position, was disbanded. This rude and cruel act from the government in relation to the best theater troupe in the country caused the indignation of the entire cultural community, but nothing could be changed. Independent filmmakers were detained on the street while filming. The authorities are trying to put pressure on the Nobel Prize in Literature Svetlana Aleksievich. Belarusian art and culture are in the grip of ideological censorship, and it is likely to grow stronger. That is why our mission at such a difficult time for Belarus is to do everything possible so that important cultural projects continue to live and change the world.

We believe that art has no boundaries, and the solidarity of cultural figures from all over the world will help Belarusians maintain their fortitude and continue to fight for the truth. We ask you to focus your attention on the Belarusian agenda within the framework of the film festivals to be held this year. It will be very valuable for us if, within the framework of the festivals, demands are made to end violence in Belarus. It is also important to talk about the need for a dialogue between the authorities and civil society. We ask at the festival discussions and meetings to raise the topics of falsification of votes in the presidential elections, illegal detentions, violence, and torture against civilians and our colleagues, and to express solidarity with Belarusians. Otherwise, culture may become the first to be destroyed by the current government.

Visual and Performing Arts Centre “ART Corporation”
Directorate of the Minsk International Film Festival “Listapad”
Angelica Krashevskaya, director
Igor Soukmanov, feature film program director
Irina Demyanova, non-fiction film program director