The Moscow International Film Festival will not screen an Armenian drama set in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in order to avoid provoking violence between ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the Russian capital, Interfax reported Wednesday.
Organizers made the decision as clashes between arch-foes Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh entered their fourth day and the number of confirmed casualties neared triple figures, marking the worst outbreak of the simmering, decades-long conflict in years.
Kirill Razlogov, program director for the 42nd annual Moscow film festival which opens Thursday, told Interfax that director Jivan Avetisyan’s “Gate to Heaven” won’t be screened “to avoid clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Moscow.”
“It’s a precautionary measure linked directly to Karabakh,” Razlogov said. “Although the film is good.”
He vowed to screen the drama at the next festival in April 2021 “if the conflict dies down to at least a truce.”
“Gate to Heaven” tells the love story of a German journalist returning to cover the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2016 and a younger opera singer whose father he had abandoned during the war’s early years in the early 1990s.
Videos have circulated online showing stepped-up security at an Armenian-owned food market in Moscow to prevent a repeat of Armenian-Azeri violence that broke out in Russia’s capital following a previous escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh this summer.