Chechen film gets international recognition

The international debut of Chechnya’s first feature film was held at Locarno Festival in Switzerland to rapturous applause.

Murad Mazaiev wrote, directed and acted in Marsho
Murad Mazaiev wrote, directed and acted in Marsho

Marsho, the Chechen word for freedom, was the first film to be nominated for the human rights award and attracted interest from the Rotterdam Film Festival as well as invitations for competitions in Egypt and Germany.

Based on a true story, the film follows Mikhail – a man who leaves his small village in the Caucasus foothills to fight the Russian invaders in 1999.

Despite his fiancee’s certainty he will return, the young man is fatally wounded during an ambush.

In the final scene, Mikhail’s little brother picks up his machine gun – a grave legacy portending more battles to come.

Talented film maker

Written, directed and acted by Murad Mazaiev, Marsho is a resonant plea for peace and a denunciation of the vicious circle of constantly repeating hate and violence in Chechnya.

“By persecuting and murdering one generation, the Russians are making sure the next has even more reason to fight,”  said Mazaiev, speaking exclusively to from the Ukraine capital while preparing for his next film.
Set in Chechnya, the movie was actually made in Pankisi gorge in Georgia with Georgian theatre actors and Chechen refugees. Local people actively supported the production.

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The final scene, when Mikhail’slittle brother takes up arms

The final scene, when Mikhail’s
little brother takes up arms

The film was first shown publicly on 8 August, but later showings have attracted international attention from some very public figures.

Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from the Hague Tribunal told Mazaiev how much she had enjoyed the film and answered his questions about what the European Human Rights Commission and the Hague Court were doing about the situation in Chechnya.

“Unfortunately the answer was all too familiar … she said Chechnya had not been recognized by the international community, and that Russia is a superpower but that nevertheless work is under way.”

Some Russian journalists appreciated the film. Alexander Plakhov, a reporter from Moscow’s Kommersant Magazine (Moscow-based) said the film was good and could actually be shown in Russia – “but there may be some difficulties because of the title – Freedom.

Not for art

Mazaiev added he has received invitations to show his film at the Rotterdam Festival, as well as to compete in Egyptian and German arts competitions – but his ultimate aim is not just to make films.

“There is truth in the artistic work. The truth is one. Art for the sake of art is nothing. It can only be for the sake of people,” the film maker said.

“The mess going on in our homeland must be stopped. An agreement must be signed with Russia, which is acceptable not only for Russia but to freedom fighters as well. In my opinion, there is a chance to stop this, to come to an agreement and to live like neighbours.

Source : Al Jazeera

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