Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – The Bir Duino Film Festival, set to open today, faces controversy as a film by Ukrainian director Alisa Kovalenko has been removed from its program. Lawyer Timur Artykov shared this development with the 24.kg news agency.
According to 24.kg News Agency, Kyrgyztasmasy State Cinema Center, a regulatory body in Kyrgyzstan, declined to issue a distribution certificate for Kovalenko’s documentary, “We Will Not Fade Away.” This decision effectively bars the film from being screened at the festival. Artykov expressed frustration over the lack of transparency in this decision-making process, noting that the center provided neither an expert opinion nor a clear reason for the refusal.
“We Will Not Fade Away” by Alisa Kovalenko is a documentary that focuses on teenagers in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, exploring their lives amid war and their discovery of a world beyond the conflict.
This incident is not isolated. Artykov also pointed out a similar situation with the film “Wartime Notes” by Barbara Cupisti, which deals with events in Ukraine. Initially granted a certificate, its registration was later revoked by Kyrgyztasmasy State Cinema Center without official explanation, leading to its removal from the festival’s program.
The Bir Duino Film Festival has faced similar challenges in the past. In 2022, films like “This Rain Will Never Stop” by Alina Gorlova, focusing on the Syrian war, and “Mara” by Sasha Kulak, centered on the elections in Belarus, were also banned from screening.
As the XVII International Documentary Film Festival Bir Duino commences, these exclusions highlight ongoing issues related to film censorship and the freedom of expression in the arts within Kyrgyzstan.