Chechnya: The great thing about Masha Novikova's latest film is how the film gradually gives you a sense of what's going on just below the surface.

Velin is a Canadian director and journalist.
Published: 2020-03-06
Daymokh, The Ancestral Land

Masha Novikova (The Netherlands)

For Chechens means daymohk "Fatherland," and the word carries with it a long history of warriors to defend it. In this context, this is also the name of the Chechen folk dance group Daymohk, as we follow in this movie where young Chechen boys and girls train diligently to live up to the founder's high expectations.

The folk dance group was founded in 1999 by the choreographer Ramzan Akhmadov in order to bring Chechen traditional culture back to blossom in the war-torn country. At that time, the capital was Grozny a blown up ruin, and the dance group performed all over Europe.
The dance group is currently sponsored by the Chechen state ("No nation without culture", stated Chechnya first president of his time). The group's founder will now make a movie clip to send to Europe, which the dance group has lost contact with. With this, the dancers will show that they are still active.

War from two perspectives

From the opening to Daymohk can you first think that this is a film that uncritically celebrates traditional Chechen folk culture and the leader of the Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. His job is to keep the Russian Federation's southern border intact, and Chechnya within it, and he uses his own version of conservative Islam and macho politics to maintain the status quo.

I personally don't know director Masha Novikova's previous films, but she has a lot of experience filming people on the brink of war. She has made a movie about Anna Politkovskaya - the Russian journalist who was murdered in 2006.

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The life of the dance group's choreographer, Ramzan Akhmadov, began in exile: His parents were among the hundreds of thousands of people deported from Chechnya in 1944. The forced release was part of a magnificent program, approved by Josef Stalin, which affected millions of non-Russian Soviet ethnic minorities from the 1930s to the 1950s. Akhmadov's family gathered and sent to

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