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Grozny Blues

original title: Grozny Blues

2015, 104 min., DCP, Russian-Chechen

antiputinism Caucasus Chechenya human rights Islam Kadyrov rock-n-roll

CATEGORY: Documentary
COUNTRY: Switzerland
PRODUCTION : BUDGET : 420 000 euro

CREW

Director :

Screenplay : Nicola Bellucci, Lucia Sgueglia
Cinematographer : Simon Guy Fässler
Producers : Frank Matter

Poster

COMMENTS

Festival del film Locarno (Panorama Suisse) 2015, Festival Visions du Réel, Nyon (International Competition) 2015, GOLDEN APRICOT, Yerevan International Film Festival (Competition) 2015, CinéDOC-Tbilisi 2015, DOK Leipzig 2015, The Riga International Film Festival 2015, Artdocfest 2015 (Competition), IDFA 2015

Zaza Rusadze The images of war seem forgotten – Chechnya has vanished long ago from the headlines of the Western press. The traces of the years of military conflict with Russia have all but disappeared in the capital of Grozny, which boasts new promenades, modern high-rises and blinding street lights. The surface is shiny, but pain is still rooted deep in the people’s souls. A country that’s about to forget its past and that’s full of monuments to its President Kadyrov and, next to him, Vladimir Putin. Four women who have fought for human rights for years are trying to preserve the collective memories. They have been collecting stories on video ever since the war began in the 1990s, documenting the horrors of war and its consequences which nobody in official Chechnya wants to see. The film ingeniously juxtaposes images from their archive and images of Grozny today. The history of the war of independence and a forgotten genocide lies between them.

 

SYNOPSIS

«Grozny Blues» follows a few people around Grozny, the capital of war-torn Chechnya where daily life is defined by political repression, constricting customs, forced Islamification and the failure to come to terms with recent history. The film revolves around four women who have been fighting for human rights under worsening conditions for many years but get more and more disillusioned with the situation in Putin’s Russia. The building where they work is also home to a Blues Club that is frequented by a group of young people. Having only vague memories of the Chechen wars in the 90s, they try to make sense of the strange things that are happening in their country. In linking the personal and intimate to the political, Nicola Bellucci shows in a dramatic and yet very poetic way what it means to live in a divided society that navigates a no-man’s land between war and peace, repression and freedom, archaic traditions and modern life.

PRESS

by KARENA AVEDISSIAN, OpenDemocracy

Grozny Blues is a haunting, often dreamlike documentary about Chechen people caught between the contradictory pressures of manufactured realities and coerced silences. Right from the beginning, as the film opens with a quotation from Bertolt Brecht, ‘It said in the papers this morning that a new era has begun’ it is clear that director Nicola Bellucci’s documentary Grozny Blues, a masterful work about contemporary Chechnya, is fixated with contrasting today’s Chechnya – the Chechnya of Ramzan Kadyrov – with Chechnya’s past.

by Siranush HAYRAPETYAN, Aravot – News from Armenia

“There are many stories untold, says Bellucci, I am trying to present some of them in an interesting way. I was interested to know how people live in Chechnya, especially women, who are the most repressive class of the society. People were talking about their lives with so difficulty. For me, it was also very difficult to persuade them, because they did not feel them safe”, says the film director.

j.b.spins

Instead of a formal indictment, Grozny Blues is like a mastercut of small, telling moments all spliced together. By going micro, we see just how systemically dysfunctional the Chechen Republic has become. As its subjects become more widely known internationally, they will probably be less likely disappear in the dark of night. Therefore, the mesmerizing and alarming Grozny Blues is recommended with considerable urgency…

Pascal Blum, Tages‐Anzeiger, Zurich

««Grozny Blues» is a web of associations, suggestive and full of contrasts, a film without commentary or text inserts. A cinematic journey of multiple narratives that form together into a unified image, which has little to do with the clichés of the Kalashnikov–‐toting terrorists from the Caucasus. Instead we are presented with the simultaneity of destruction and everyday life in Chechnya, of a past that has been leveled and a surreal normality.(…) A form of carnival–‐esque subversion seems to be present in this post–‐war Chechnya. A kind of creative infiltration that Nicola Bellucci employs as a tool when swirling together different time periods in «Grozny Blues». He invokes the devastation until it runs through the veins of everyday existence and the office towers in Grozny seem like gravestones. He keeps those who have disappeared alive, as a form of ghostly consciousness in the present. He collides things together so that we can make our own connections. We are frightened – and illuminated».

«This  kaleidoscopic  documentary  offers  fragmentary  narratives  (…)  disturbing», – Bertrand  Tappolet,  Le  Courrier,  Geneva

««Grozny  Blues»  reconstructs  both  the  past  and  the  present  of  this  traumatized  region:  two hours  of  goosebumps  during  which  archival  video  material  and  manifestations  of  presentday neo-fascism  and  collective  forgetting  are  presented», – Carlota  Mosegui,  El  antepenúltimo  mohicano,  Cáceres,  Spain

«Every  time  «Grozny  Blues»  presents  a  relatively  harmless  image  of  everyday  life  in  the  city, every  time  when  you  can  breath  normally  again,  feel  secure,  and  think  that  maybe  it’s  not that  bad  (in  Chechnya),  Nicola  Bellucci  shows  excerpts  from  the  video  material  that  the women  shot  during  the  war,  (it’s)  full  of  destruction,  misery,  and  death.  (…)  If  there  is  no better  future  for  Grozny  in  sight,  then  everyone  should  at  least  know  about  the  events  that led  things  down  this  path», – Mark  Kuzmanic,  Billet.ch

Giorgia  del  Don,  Cineuropa.org

««Grozny  Blues»  is  a  journey  as  passionate  as  it  is  dramatic,  into  a  paradoxical  Chechnya divided  between  a  phantasmagorical  past  and  an  apparently  (post)  apocalyptic  future.  The lucid  and  sensitive  gaze  of  Nicola  Bellucci  explores  this  uncertain  land,  digs  through  the  few remaining  ruins  to  bring  to  light  a  past  that  screams  otherworldliness.  (…)  «Grozny  Blues» tries  to  give  a  voice  to  the  ghosts  haunting  the  Chechnyan  capital  using  a  complex  system  of echoes.  The  droning  sound  of  revolutionary  speeches,  the  dramatic  images  of  war  (bravely compiled  by  the  three  activists  who  are  transformed  in  a  common  thread  of  the  film)  are often  placed  in  parallel  with  the  fake  glitz  of  everyday  life  like  a  scream  which,  instead  of going  on  forever,  is  blocked  by  a  huge  wall,  bouncing  back  in  the  form  of  an  echo,  again  and again.(…)  Since  talking  about  it  is  prohibited,  another  form  of  communication  has  come about,  which  Nicola  Bellucci  captures  magnificently,  made  up  of  gestures,  gazes, ghosts  still lingering  in  the  empty  houses  and  laughter  echoing  in  the  ears  of  those  who  are  left. 

The  desperate  testimonies  of  the  few  militants  who  still  live  in  Grozny  and  the extraordinarily  rich  archive  material  that  Bellucci  brings  to  life  in  his film  throw  us  into  an extremely  complex  reality  that  of  a  dreamt-of  Caucasus  that  became  a  nightmare.  A  deep and  sensitive  piece,  which  deserves  our  undivided  attention»

von JimiAntiloop, Moviepilot

Der letztlich entstehende Gesamteindruck ist gar nicht so leicht in Worte zu fassen. Die Lage vor Ort ist komplex, so viel nehme ich mit. Religiöser und politischer Druck reiben stark an den Menschen und es fehlt an wirklichen Perspektiven. Starke Bilder begleiten mich mit aus dem Saal und im Gepäck einige intensive Eindrücke der Gefühlswelten von Menschen, welche in einer diffusen Ungewissheit leben.

Por Carlota Moseguí, Otros Cines Europa

El film de Nicola Bellucci construye un diálogo entre el pasado bélico de Chechenia y el presente de las nuevas generaciones pro-Putin. Una disputa formal, basada en un montaje de plano-contraplano, que alterna footage casero de cadáveres de niños mutilados durante las bombardeos de Grozny en la Segunda Guerra Chechena –filmados a finales de los noventa y principios de este siglo por las ex-cineastas amateurs que protagonizan el documental– con escenas actuales tomadas en las mismas localizaciones donde se celebran meetings políticios de ultra-derecha. Grozny Blues desarrolla el mensaje contrario al propuesto por Michael Wahrmann en Avanti Popolo: la juventud no participa del recuerdo de la opresión vivida durante los regímenes totalitarios o la guerra, sino que toda la memoria histórica de un país cae en el olvido.

Clip CineDOC Tbilisi 2015

Interview | Nicola Bellucci | Grozny Blues