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Amnesty International Stages A Kidnapping In A Kiev Movie Theater

What would you do if masked gunmen stormed into a movie theater and yanked two people out of the audience right in front of you?

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How do you convey the horror and brutality of armed kidnapping to people whose daily lives are more focused on, say, going to the movies than avoiding masked gunmen? Bring the gunmen to them, Amnesty International figured out.

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In the latest iteration of real-life traum-advertising, the global human rights organization and agency Tabasco staged a performance in a movie theater in Kiev, Ukraine, in which in the middle of the film, the lights came up and the action stopped–and four men with balaclavas, fatigues, and semi-automatic rifles walked in.


In a minute-long video the organization released on YouTube, you can watch the theater as the kidnapping goes down: The armed figures yank one man out of his seat to cries of “I didn’t do anything!” while another stands up, declaring himself to be a lawyer and insisting that they have no authority to detain him–before he, too, is taken away. The audience, meanwhile, shifts uncomfortably, films on their cell phones, and otherwise seems vaguely incredulous. When the theater darkens again, a voiceover explains that, while this performance was carried out by actors, things like this happen in real life. It’s an uncomfortable performance, but it’s about an uncomfortable reality.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club

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