The screening of the new documentary film “Incurable Me” about the horrifying experience of forced “conversion therapy” for LGBT people in Russia took place in Amsterdam to a double full house.
The private screening of the film “Incurable Me” took place on July 16, 2023. Approximately 80 people gathered at the Goethe Institute, located in the historic center of Amsterdam. Alongside the audience, the film’s producers and one of the film’s protagonists watched this poignant documentary on the big screen for the first time. After each of the two screenings, the film’s director, Nick Lo, engaged in discussions with the audience.
“Incurable Me” is a collection of five stories featuring individuals who have gone through “conversion therapy”: a “therapeutic” pilgrimage to Iran, forced confinement in a psychiatric institution, imprisonment in an Orthodox monastery, torture in a Caucasian prison, sessions of “djinn exorcism,” and much more. This candid documentary exposes the horrific methods of “treating” homosexuality employed in Russia and several countries that were once part of the USSR.
International Title: Incurable Me
Original Title: “Таблетка от себя” (“Tablet from Oneself”)
Director: Nick Lo
Producers: Medialoft, Victoria Hoogland, Zara Quliyeva
The film was shot in the Netherlands, Armenia, and Russia. It is in the Russian language with English subtitles.
“Conversion therapy” is a term that encompasses methods not recognized by the global scientific community, whose aim is to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. Supporters of “conversion therapy” believe that sexual orientation and gender identity can be corrected or completely changed. This widespread misconception has been repeatedly debunked by the results of numerous studies. The authors of these studies emphasize that the methods used in “conversion therapy” pose potential risks to the mental well-being of the “patient.”
Before the screening, one of the film’s protagonists, Zeid (born as Sabina), addressed the audience. The presence of one of the heroes of the film “Incurable Me” made the screening more realistic. It is one thing to see a torture victim on the screen, and quite another to interact with a vibrant and self-assured person who has endured torture and humiliation. Everyone who was able to attend the event gathered in the cozy courtyard of the Goethe Institute, waiting for the screening to begin. It was noisy, filled with laughter. Guests got to know each other and, hopefully, made new friends.
One of the goals set by the LGBT World Beside team is to support LGBTQ+ individuals. The life of a refugee in a new country is filled with strong and prolonged stress due to uncertainty. Zeid is an example of resilience, having gone through “conversion therapy” at the insistence of his closest family members and having had to start his life anew in another country. We hope that interacting with him has bolstered the self-confidence of at least one of those present.
The main guests of the screening in Amsterdam were LGBTQ+ individuals awaiting a response to their asylum applications in the Netherlands, refugees who have already obtained status, and sympathetic supporters. Representatives of the film crew and volunteers from LGBT World Beside were also present at the event.
The director of the film “Incurable Me,” Nikita Loik, the chief editor of Medialoft, and the film’s producer, Victoria Hoogland, addressed the audience gathered at the event.
“Finding heroes for the film was not difficult at all!” said Nikita Loik, responding to questions from the audience. “People have accumulated so much pain, so many stories that I gathered the heroes for this film unexpectedly quickly, within four to five days!“
The most challenging aspect of working on the film “Incurable Me,” as Nikita himself admitted, was the fact that he couldn’t be present during the actual filming. The production team managed to ensure the director’s remote presence on set so effectively that he was able to convey all the pain the heroes had experienced.
“Such stories need to be told face to face, when, in a conversation with you, the person forgets that there is a camera in front of them, when they speak to you eye to eye. It is very difficult to tell such a story remotely through Zoom!” Nikita told the audience after the screening.
Throughout the film’s duration, which lasted an hour, absolute silence filled the room. Some of the viewers silently nodded their heads upon hearing particularly poignant details from the hero’s nightmare experiences. The sounds of the final minute of the film were drowned in applause!
The number of people who wanted to watch Nikita Loik’s new film exceeded the capacity of the screening room provided by the Goethe Institute, so a decision was made to hold two screenings. After the second screening, it became clear that some of the guests stayed behind to watch this emotionally challenging film once again. It is impossible to fully comprehend the depth of pain that the heroes of this film endured and that surviving LGBTQ+ individuals throughout the post-Soviet space, who have found themselves in similar situations, continue to experience.
In response to audience questions, Nikita announced that Russian viewers would be able to see the film “Incurable Me” on YouTube in August. “We will not gather an audience in some public space in Russia to watch this film – there are no safe spaces left in Russia – we will not jeopardize the lives and health of Russians,” Loik concluded.
The primary goal of this event was to raise awareness about the issues faced by LGBTQ+ individuals living in the post-Soviet space. Surviving in these countries’ extremely homophobic atmospheres, LGBTQ+ individuals face daily public condemnation, contempt, and even violence.
We were glad to see Sarah Bürmann representing NOS (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting / Dutch Broadcasting Foundation) among the attendees. Also present were several members of The Rainbow Group: coordinator Martine Drabbe, Karen van Heek, and Jos Holweg. It was a pleasant surprise for both the guests and Nikita Loik to have Vera, the protagonist of his previous documentary film “Beyond the Rainbow,” filmed for Medialoft in 2022, present in the audience.
The LGBT World Beside team, in collaboration with Medialoft, organized this closed pre-premiere screening and expresses gratitude and appreciation to director Nikita Loik for his work. We also thank everyone who came to watch this film. We believe that such films help raise awareness among Europeans about the horrors of the modern lives of LGBTQ+ individuals in Russia and the former Soviet countries. It is difficult to comprehend the reality that passersby can literally scalp someone if their hair color does not meet the standards dictated by propaganda, as happened on July 10, 2023, in the city of Elektrostal near Moscow. Two men attacked 19-year-old Yuri Markov because of the green color of his hair. One of the attackers pulled out a knife and started cutting off Yuri’s hair along with a part of his scalp.
The film’s trailer is available here.
The premiere of the film on the Medialoft YouTube channel will take place on August 5, 2023.
The LGBT World Beside volunteer team who worked at the event includes Maxim, Danil, Daria, Kristina, Igor, Dmitry, Pavel, Melody, Yura, Sergey, Alexander, and Hrayr.