A documentary about post-war Chechnya was awarded in Amsterdam

25. 11. 2016

Author: Barbora Holková

During the awards ceremony of the 29th IDFA in Stadsschouwburg theatre in Amsterdam, the winners  of the various competition sections were announced. Two awards were presented in each competition: the award for best film and a special jury award. 

In both feature-length and mid-length categories, the theme of war influencing ordinary people's lives was dealt with by several competing documentaries and in both sections, this topic caught the eye of the jurors. The award for the Best Feature-Length was given to Nowhere to Hide directed by Zaradasht Ahmed for showing "an unprecedented window into the real life-lasting consequences of war." In the mid-length category, the IDFA Special Jury Award (€ 2,500) was given to the Estonian documentary Come Back Free, depicting the life in a village in post-war Chechnya. Its Russian director, Ksenia Okhapkina, points out the grievances, feelings of injustice, fear and violence which are still present among the Chechens, long after the war is officially over, but also shows the ways in which the villagers are trying to build a new, better life and to overcome the traumas and difficulties by hard work, as well as dancing, singing and traditional rituals. Although minor fights are ongoing in many parts of Chechnya and the people are always alert, expecting a new conflict, at the same time, they hope for a better future and true independence, greeting each other:“Come back free!”. The film shows all this in an observational and sensitive way, via the scenes from the villagers’ everyday lives.

We are happy that we had the privilege to see this documentary being developed during the Ex Oriente Film workshop in 2014, and introduced at East European Forum in 2015. We hope its message will reach out to the audiences worldwide soon.

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