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Bulgarian Choreographer Captures Chechnya Refugee Experience

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Credit: Miles Rixon

Kosta Karakashyan is a talented artist devoted to social justice and LGBT rights.

The New York choreographer is fighting for the vulnerable in the hostile region of the Russian Federation. He intends to win over hearts and minds through film.

Karakashyan produced “Waiting For Color” – a documentary dance film about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Chechnya. LGBT Refugees from Chechnya have told Karakashyan the film “captures their experience completely.”

“That was so reaffirming to me,” Karakashyan said in a telephone interview last week from New York.

Karakashyan performs ballet to the words of Chechnyan refugees as described in government police reports and articles in Novaya Gazette, a Russian newspaper. He swiftly moves around an empty city loft spaces as whispers of violence eerily recite the persecution in Chechnya.

The short film (6:25) got its first film festival entry at Emory University in Atlanta and will air on a television station in Germany next month.

“It’s been getting a lot of different coverage that I’m really excited about,” Karakashyan said.

The film is a direct, albeit artistic, response to last year’s “gay purge” by the Chechnya government, led by President Ramzan Kadyrov. The Russian state is accused of abducting, torturing and killing hundreds of gay men. Chechnya is a largely Islamic country and Kadyrov maintains strong relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Mishko Miloan, a journalist who has reported in Russia.

Broken down into three scenes – surveillance, torture and contemplation,“Waiting For Color”is a shockingly dramatic expression. It was shot and edited by Kevin Chiu with Jude Icarus providing sound and music. Voice actors Venya Gushchin and Ksenia Voronkova read the chilling accounts. Photography by Miles Rixon and sound mixing by Andro Mathewson.

“Waiting For Color” recently announced a partnership with LGBT World Beside, an international group advocating for peace. Karakashyan said there is much work to be done.

“It’s overwhelming where to start dismantling it,” Karakashyan said when asked about the global crusade. “We have to reduce the amount of violence and take it from there.”


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