FC Chechnya documents an eponymous football club run by Chechen refugees and asylum seekers in Carinthia, and looks at how it serves as a psychological and social support base in a long and emotionally draining asylum procedure. Austria hosts approx. 25,000 Chechen refugees and asylum seekers, one of the largest numbers in Europe. The Chechen diaspora there is strong and culturally vibrant, but often living a life that is precarious and clouded with fear. The film follows three young refugees in the middle of the asylum process, who are waiting for years for the elusive positive decisions. Through a series of interviews, it explores their family lives, their personalities as well as how football helps each of them to cope with the asylum process and hold on to their dreams for the future.Written by
The director, Fahad Mustafa, speaks no Russian and only some German, the principal languages of the film. But, the core of the film transcends language and Fahad has articulated the story masterfully, with the help of a fantastic team of translators and the brilliant assistant director, Xenia Pilipenko. See more »
FC Chechnya presents a fascinating insight into a world that most of us have probably given little thought to, or chosen to ignore. Whilst perhaps not as naturally 'sensational' as the many exposes into life in refugee camps, for example, watching a refugee community settle within another, notably with differing degrees of state and local community support, offers a story every bit as complex and multi-dimensional, if not more. It becomes very quickly clear that there are no simple answers to resolving both overt and underlying tensions of identity and belonging. That these present on the surface as somewhat passive, and banal, when deep down they are anything but, would indicate a tough challenge for any filmmaker. However, FC Chechnya manages to convey these tensions, emotively and in spades. The connective 'tissue' of the whole narrative is football – a 'universal' if ever there was one – which becomes both a means of advancement in a new community, and an activity to keep, if not strengthen, existing bonds within an existing refugee community. FC Chechnya succeeds through it's subtle, 'down-to-earth' presentation, which draws the viewer in to a point where, at several times throughout the film, it feels as like you are actually standing there, on-the-spot, whilst it's being filmed. The power of the narrative continues to grow throughout the film, and the absence of dramatics that have plagued many a promising documentary helps bring out the sub-stories whilst making sure the bigger issues remain front of mind. One if left to wonder how much this situation may have been replicated in Europe in recent years, and how we seem to have missed this dynamic completely.
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