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Statement about Emerging Russian Filmmakers Series
at the 2013 DC Shorts Film Festival

In October 2012, I had the idea to collect and showcase the largest collection of Russian short films to ever screen in the United States. At the time, the political and social issues in the Russian Federation did not seem more troubling than normal. A plan was developed and implemented in cooperation with the Cultural Attache at the Embassy of Russia, representatives from the Moscow Film Festival, The SHAR School (an animation college in Moscow), and through the help of dozens of film festivals worldwide.

Over the course of eight months, DC Shorts collected 86 short films from filmmakers throughout the Russian Federation. Films were evaluated and judged with the other 1,200 entries, until 16 were chosen for the Festival.

Since programming in early June, serious social and political issues have arisen. While the imprisoning of the rock band Pussy Riot and the ongoing Edward Snowden affair have tainted the image of Russia in the eyes of many Americans, what is more troubling is President Putin’s push to criminalize homosexuality.

As an openly gay man, I am horrified by this legislation. DC Shorts have since severed ties with the Embassy and their staff.

Recently, the internet promoted calls to boycott the upcoming Olympic games in Sochi and Russian products. While we understand these sentiments, the DC Shorts Film Festival will continue our plan to screen the 16 films.

Punishing emerging filmmakers for the actions of their politicians is not fair to them, their productions, or their art.

The stories told by filmmakers often reflect the larger social issues of their culture, and these films are no exception. Many tell the tales of simpler times; others are violent and highlight injustices brought about by social policy. I invite audiences to watch these films and appreciate their creative storytelling.

Jon Gann, Festival Director