Baku, September 12, AZERTAC
"Bloody January" film by Azerbaijani director Vahid Mustafayev highlighting the 1990 Baku events was screened at the 39th Montreal World Film Festival 2015, where it also won a prize. AZERTAC presents an interview with Vahid Mustafayev.
Mr Mustafayev, your "Bloody January" film was screened in Montreal for the second time. How was it received by the audience? Did the public deeply feel the path of independence pursued by Azerbaijan?
The Montreal World Film Festival is one of the oldest international film festivals accredited by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations). The festival showcases the best productions of films produced across the globe. At the same time, the Montreal Film Festival is a festival of a "new word". The festival is also very important from the commercial point of view as it promotes the opening of new markets for filmmakers. The Montreal, Cannes and Venice film festivals introduce new films and filmmakers to the world. From this standpoint, the Montreal festival occupies a uniquely important place. And we are proud that "Bloody January" was selected from among a total of 345 films submitted.
Twenty years ago, the Montreal Film Festival featured "Yarasa" film by Azerbaijani filmmaker Ayaz Salayev, ten years ago Shamil Najafzade's "Gala" film was also screened in Montreal, so, it is not the first experience for our country. We have received a very warm welcome from the Festivals' president Serge Losique, who has presented us the award and a special diploma. I believe this success belongs not only to me and the team, but to the whole Azerbaijan.
Do you think you have brought any innovative ideas to the Azerbaijani film making by this movie in the context of casting, budget or director's solution?
This year we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the bloody January events. By this film we tried to narrate a story about those events. Today, 25-year-old young people who were born after these events can obtain information about the Black January only through the Internet and books. But information in the Internet is diverse and often incorrect. So, it is important to get across the truth of those events and the courage of Azerbaijani people.
The film targets two various generations. It will evoke nostalgia in my generation and people older than me. For the younger generation this film is sort of a portrait of heroism. We tried to demonstrate the courage, spirit and love of freedom of Azerbaijani people and I think we coped with the task.
Your films notably address the themes of Garabakh and patriotism. I mean your last films – "The Memory", "Khoja" and "Bloody January". Are these films based on your own memories of the 1990s?
I also made "The Unlike" and 'Bulaghıstan". All these films are dedicated to our recent history.
The world has seen the Khojaly tragedy through the eyes of Chingiz Mustafayev (Azerbaijani reporter). Twenty years later this story was described by you (in "Khoja" film). Is there any difference between the two visions?
Twenty years have passed since the Khojaly tragedy. Chingiz Mustafayev, who filmed the barbaric murder of innocent residents of Khojaly, made it known to the world. But it is too painful to watch them. Our goal is to let people around the world know about these atrocities. Let people around the globe watch and estimate this tragedy.
'Khoja' is sort of a love story, love affair between two young people against the background of Khojaly events. I think that the purpose of all movies is the same. The characters are fighting for the better life. The only difference is the characters and the background. The characters of "The Memory", "Khoja" and "Bloody January" films are brave Azerbaijanis, and the background is the land of Azerbaijan.
As we talked about the film "Khoja", I would like to say that it takes a great courage to apologize for shooting this film 20 years later. How did you find this courage?
I don't think it is courage. It was just a message. It was a message that I sent to a number of organizations which are involved in this issue for failing to do their job on time. Of course, my apologies go to the Azerbaijani people because I also could do it 20 years ago like the organizations whose names I did not mention. However I was not able to do it for some reasons. Surely, every citizen has certain duties to his people. And so do I. I apologized on my own behalf.
You were one of the first reporters highlighting the Karabakh war. How will modern Azerbaijani media behave if the war breaks out?
I think that we have a very strong media with the exception of some websites and newspapers. AZERTAC being on the top we have excellent news agencies and reporters. If the war breaks out we have professional journalists to highlight it. We will not face difficulties as we did before. Our state is powerful and knows what it wants.
At the age of 22 you were among the founders of ANS-the first independent TV channel in the Caucasus. What has changed and what remained the same at the television channel which is today known as ANS Group of Companies?
I remember everything very clearly. We did not write any history at those times. We only worked trying to fulfill the obligations facing us. I am going to hot spots as a reporter these days too. ANS continues to develop. We then tried to break through the information blockade, to bring the truth about Azerbaijan to the world. At that time, it was the truth of the war, we wanted to prove that we were right in our fighting. Today, we try to convey information about prosperity and economic development of Azerbaijan to the whole world.
Thank you very much.