A documentary feature about journalists covering the Second Chechen War has picked up two prizes at this year’s Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, Variety magazine reported. See You in Chechnya, by Georgian director Alexander Kvatashidze, was awarded the $21,500 Open Doors Production Award and the $8,000 ARTE Open Doors Award. The film follows six war reporters over a period of 15 years, looking at their ambitions, professional successes and personal lives against the backdrop of the war.
“But this could be any war, in any country,” said Kvatashidze. “As I reflect on the motives which drove these people, people I knew and admired, to risk everything to tell the world what was happening in this inhospitable mountain enclave, I offer a fascinating insight into the peculiar psychology of war reporters: contemporary heroes whose business is death, and who have to face up to their own mortality every time they go to work.”
In 1999, at the age of 22, Kvatashidze travelled to Chechnya from Georgia via the Caucasus mountains to pursue a French photographer, Françoise, he had fallen in love with. He said: “All we Georgians knew about Chechnya was that it was a kind of hell on earth, a place where Islamic fundamentalists played football with journalists’ severed heads. So I realised that I had to go with Françoise, to protect her.”
The Locarno film festival has been held every year in August since 1946. This year’s festival runs until the 17 August with the Golden Leopard, the top prize, still to be awarded.