International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR)

Jump to content // Jump to navigation

International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) — Home page

The Coalition responds to cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety or liberty of filmmakers at risk as a result of their work and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilizing the international film community.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Drop Charges Against Russian Director Kirill Serebrennikov

On Friday, 26 June, Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court is expected to deliver the verdict in the criminal embezzlement case against Kirill Serebrennikov, a prominent theatre and film director in Russia, and his co-defendants: Sofia Apfelbaum, Alexei Malobrodsky, and Yuri Itin.

The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) and its initiators, the European Film Academy (EFA), the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), and the Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR), together with PEN America’s Artists At Risk Connection (ARC) and with Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Film Network, as well as the International Documentary Association (IDA), the Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) and the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA), call on the prosecution to immediately drop the criminal charges against them.

On 22 June, during closing arguments, the prosecution asked the court to sentence Serebrennikov to six years in prison, and asked for terms ranging from four to five years for his co-defendants. The prosecution also asked that they be ordered to pay fines of up to 800k rubles (€10,300).

Serebrennikov serves as the artistic director of the Gogol Center in Moscow, which he transformed into a prominent cultural centre.

In 2017, Serebrennikov and his co-defendants were charged with embezzling 129 million rubles (€1.66 million) for a performing arts project called Platform, which received state funding and which promoted modern dance, theatre, and music in Russia. Among the accusations pursued by the state was a false claim that one of Platform’s shows did not take place,when in fact it was staged numerous times. People who attended the performance posted about it on social media using the hashtag #ябылнаплатформе (I was at Platform) on Facebook. If indeed there were financial irregularities in the accounting for the Platform project, there were other ways the authorities could have resolved them.

The state’s leap to criminal embezzlement charges seems to be a thinly veiled way to retaliate against Serebrennikov for his political criticism and to send a chilling message to other artists, who have no choice but to accept state funding to survive as artists, to refrain from political criticism.

Known for his vocal criticism, Serebrennikov has spoken out on a wide variety of issues. He criticised the persecution of LGBTQ individuals, and, in that connection, the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russian society. He voiced alarm about increasing censorship – including the arrests of members of the punk collective Pussy Riot –about rising authoritarianism in Russia. He was also critical about Russia’s involvement in the Russo-Georgian war.

After charges were brought against Serebrennikov in 2017, he was put under house arrest for almost two years until April 2019, when he was released on bail.

Many in Russia and around the world have spoken out against the baseless targeting of Serebrennikov. The case is widely considered a specious attempt to punish him for his political candour and artistic nonconformism. The artistic community in particular has risen to his defence. Legendary ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov stated, “an artist of whom Russia should be proud is being debased and humiliated,” and called Serebrennikov’s “repression” by the government politically motivated. When Serebrennikov was first targeted, dozens of Russian cultural figures circulated a petition, urging the Russian authorities to release him, which received more than 54,000 signatures, as of today.

In Russia, it is extremely difficult for artists to survive without state funding. The price for artists who seek and accept state funding in order to pursue their right of artistic expression, cannot be the loss of their right to free political expression.


International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) — Home page

Our site uses cookies for social networks connections, better overall site performance and awesome user experience. Do you agree with use of cookies?

Find out more

Cookies on our web page

About cookies

Cookies are short text files that are sent from a website and stored on user’s computer, smartphone or any other device accessing websites through the Internet. They can be used to collect information on how users browse a website, and can thus adapt the contents of the website to users’ interests when they browse the same website in the future, ensuring the best user experience. A cookie usually contains a string of letters and numbers that is stored on user’s computer when they visit a certain website. Each time the user visits the website, the latter is notified of the stored cookie, thereby enabling recognition of the user.

The use of cookies on the Internet has been commonplace for quite some time. More information on cookies can be found at, including instructions on how to delete them.

Types of cookies

Strictly necessary cookies

These cookies let you move around the website and use its essential features. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for (e.g. registration, shopping activities, safety, etc.) will not function.

Performance cookies

These cookies collect information on how visitors use a website with the purpose of improving their user experience (for instance, which pages visitors go to most often, etc.). These cookies do not collect information that identifies a visitor.

Functionality cookies

These cookies allow the website to remember your settings and choices you make (user name, language, region, etc.) and provide enhanced, personalised features. These cookies may track your actions on the website.

Targeting cookies

Tracking cookies are related to third-party services (e.g. advertising and social networks), such as the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons. These cookies may track your actions on the website. They are managed and hosted by third parties.

Cookies on this website

Cookie name Author Purpose
ICFR These cookies record your choice regarding the use of cookies on our website.
AddThis These cookies are set by AddThis social plugin.
AddThis privacy policy / Opt-out of AddThis
YouTube These cookies are set by YouTube video player.
Types of cookies used by Google
Vimeo These cookies are set by Vimeo video player.
Vimeo privacy policy / Vimeo cookie policy

Cookie management

Cookies are stored and managed by the browser used by the user. The browser may limit cookie storage or disable it. Cookies stored by the browser may be deleted – for more information visit Your decision regarding the use of cookies on this website can be changed at any time by clicking on the link Cookies.

Website management

Website ICFR — International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk.