Belarusian film critic Maksim Zhbankou was expelled from the film critics jury at Listapad International Film Festival scheduled for November 2—9 in Minsk.
Zhbankou told BelaPAN news agency he had been invited to the international film critics jury by festival programme director Ihar Sukmanau. He received an official invitation and a letter confirming Zhbankou's membership in the jury.
“Maria Kudravatykh, the international contacts coordinator, called me later and said she regretted but they had to withdraw my invitation,” Zhbankou said. “I understood everything and asked if the decision had been taken by someone from above. She answered that it was true. It turns out that not only musicians are on blacklists. One more thing. They asked me to send my biography, because the Ministry of Culture needed it. I don't know why they need it. I didn't send it, but they understood even without the biography that I am not the person they want.”
The film critic notes he already faced a similar situation in the late 1990s, when he worked for Soros Foundation for a short time. “After that I met a tacit employment ban during the next two years. I think an oral order of that kind exists now. I cannot get rid of a feeling of surprising absurdity. One probably think how it may be possible to fear a film critic. But you can see that I am among unwanted people,” the movie critic said.
Asked to comment on the situation of excluding Zhbankou from the jury, Listapad film festival press service answered: “ To our deep regret, this candidate was not approved by our higher bosses.” Festival representatives refused to say who exactly took the decision.
Maksim Zhbankou thinks he was included in the “blacklist” due to his articles in independent press.