New York- I finally found Marsho (“Freedom” in Chechen) by director Murad Mazaev in its entirety online. Marsho is Chechnya’s first film shot on location in Georgia’s Pankisi valley in 2002. The film is notable in that it was shot with the permission and acquiescence the late warlord Ruslan Gelayev. Gelayev essentially ran the area at the time and anything that took place there required his ok. The other person helping the production along from afar was British stage and screen legend Vanessa Redgrave. Redgrave later helped Murad take the film to festivals in Europe to showcase his work, an impassioned critique of the (still) ongoing Chechen wars. Murad made the film with Surkho Idiev who is shown playing the piano in the first scene. Murad’s costar is a half-Georgian, half-Kist actress named Mariam Kublashvili from Akhmeta. I joined Murad into this murky world in 2002. We almost got shot making a run out of the place ducking in the back of an old white Lada barreling through a Georgian checkpoint on the way out and then I was later grabbed off of a marshrutka (minibus) by the Georgian successor to the KGB. Sure, there’s lots more to tell in this story but that’ll be in the book.
For more, see Murad’s website: http://chechenfilms.org/ (in Cyrillic)