Author: Valentina REZNIKOVA
Director Elchin Musaoghlu does not need introduction. He was appointed the head of the creative association Aztelefilm of Azerbaijan Television in September 2020. He is already a well-known and popular person. Not only for his works in cinema, including the documentaries, short films and feature films, but also for his pronounced civic position. He proved that he was not an indifferent person not inclined to mimicry (adapt) to the structure of the moment, when a living thought and feelings were replaced by commercial profit, with his well-known documentary Sand Grain. The plot revolves around a problem of juvenile offenders serving time in prison. For what? Because one of them was hungry and stole food... But is it possible to imprison a child, whom adults are not able to provide even with food? Can a child be held responsible for the imperfection of actions and deeds of adults? And what is the degree and measure of adult responsibility for the lives and destinies of children? Let us recall the events of 1992-1994 followed by the loss of Karabakh and the lands in the so-called buffer zone around Karabakh. Look at the number of refugees in Azerbaijan. Let's remember the children of the next Karabakh conflict. “Let us remember everyone by name, remember our grief. We need this not for the dead, but for the living generation!" poet Robert Rozhdestvensky said in his poem dedicated to the soldiers who died in the Great Patriotic War. We could not even imagine how his Requiem would be relevant for us, witnesses of the war of conquest in Karabakh! In the early 1990s and today, in October 2020, Elchin Musaoghlu with his crew filmed a documentary in prison, where most of the 150 children were, in fact, not criminals, but victims of a military conflict of adults... With the help of Rustam Ibrahimbeyov, the film was presented to professionals of the Union of Cinematographers, as well as lawyers, women deputies of the parliament, heads of children's prisons and colonies and the general public. As a result by the order of the President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, the cases of juvenile "criminals" were reviewed and 80 of 150 children were immediately released from prisons.
Is it possible to consider this fact as an introduction to the Karabakh problem? Later Musaoghlu filmed another fifty documentaries, most of which are focused on the study of this topic.
Before starting our dialogue with Elchin MUSAOGHLU, we congratulated him with the successful counter-offensive of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and the advancement of our army in the zone of the annexed lands, which have been occupied by the invaders for almost 30 years.
"Many thanks to your editors. I am very grateful for the congratulations and, in turn, I kindly ask you to convey my response to your readers. I congratulate everyone on the successes of our army, the successes of our soldiers who are conquering our lands, our freedom and our faith in the highest justice. During almost 30 years, they wanted to make us forget that Karabakh is part of our history, the lands that belong to the Azerbaijani people. They put us at the negotiating table and tried by all means to to postpone the resolution of the conflict hoping that we would get used to the idea that these lands were no longer ours. The world community had nowhere to rush. Thousands of people expelled from their lands were not Armenians. The world has become pragmatic and indifferent to the pain of others. Let us remember all those who were burned alive in Khojaly, all children and adolescents, old people and women who were shot and killed! Raped girls and old women! This is not a fantasy. These atrocities of Armenian mercenary fighters have irrefutable documentary evidence!"
"You have made nine films about the Karabakh war. What do you remember?"
"Scorched earth and destroyed houses. Moving from city to city, from village to village, our film crew saw the same picture of scorched earth and destruction. We felt uncomfortable, because we had a feeling of some kind of phantasmagoric action, which had no right to be at all."
"Have you ever found yourself in extreme situations?"
"When you film in the combat zone, you must be ready for anything. Once in 1995-1996, our crew was filming the village of Shukurbeyli (now liberated). We were warned that the village was surrounded by Armenian snipers and that we would hardly be able to survive. What could we do? We glued the flashlight of our camera to prevent the enemy from tracking the movement of our crew. We had to shoot a panorama of the village from above. Nothing remained of the village except the dilapidated walls. We then found a point for shooting. But how could we do that? Snipers could fire on our camera. I was young then and I didn't care. There was no thought at all that I might die. I thought only about one thing: how to shoot a panorama of the village so that everyone would understand that there was a war of destruction going on and that it was directed against the civilian population. Nariman Shikhaliyev was our director of photography. Being the eldest among us, he quickly solved the problem of who would climb to the point for shooting, as there were other crew members who wanted to do this!. He asked us a simple question: “Who are you, a director? Then direct and don't bother me, the operator, to do my job!" And he made a great footage! For two weeks we drove and filmed all the destroyed villages. Then I made a film about Khojaly... I personally spoke with people who went through the hell of a scorched earth... I heard a lot of things that make your hair stand! And now, when we are recapturing these lands, I want to say that this is not just a war, it is the fulfillment of the will of the entire people, which supports the decision of their government to return the illegally occupied lands. Together we are truly strong."
"But don't you think that we are still losing the information war?"
"Not anymore. We were losing, but now we are not. We lost because we expected decisions and actions from the world community. But we are tired of waiting! And this weariness united us. We woke up. And now look how our compatriots living in different parts of the world support us! Is this not an evidence of unity? Homeland is not a geographical affiliation, it is love for paternal covenants, for everything that is dear and important to us. Look at the generation of those born in the 1990s! They know exactly what they want. And they want justice: both historical and political. Therefore, they volunteer to go to the front. Not to seize what belongs to someone else, but our own lands! I am proud of this generation. I am proud of their love for their country and land with its traditions and culture. I wish they all stayed alive. But in war, you cannot do without losses. All sacred scriptures - the Bible, the Quran, the Torah – they all tell us when and for what reason one can take a life of another person."
"Defending your life, your land, your home, your family. Also, there is so much fake dirt and so much monstrous lies in these information wars that I sincerely do not understand why people prefer to spend their short lives on this nonsense, instead of devoting their lives to new discoveries, for example. Something that would add kindness to humanity, not hatred."
"As your film Nabat filmed in 2014?! I read that this film received many awards at international film festivals and is still demonstrated in different countries of the world. It has a strong emotional impact on audiences in Germany, Hungary, and Japan, where it was even timed to coincide with 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They say that this story is understandable and close to them because Nabat is a personification of a Woman and her country. Was it your initial inspiration to make the film so that it does not have a specific geopolitical address, or did it happen by chance?"
"Nothing is accidental. Especially in the movies. I have had the history of the Woman, who personifies both the Nature and Mother, with me long ago. I even made some sketches. But when I left for the army, I left them at home until better times. Then my father wrote a story. With the inception of the first Karabakh war, I began to hear eyewitness stories about different women, whose fates were united by the war and endless devotion to their land. That’s what made me to return to this topic again."
"Moral law of Nabat is the law of women and men of her generation, her people. I think this film is about the fate of a Karabakhi woman as well..."
"Thanks. Your words mean Nabat was a success. That’s my address to people. To everyone who cherishes the ideas of peace and creation. To everyone who realizes that we, living on Earth, pay tribute to her with our correct attitude towards the Earth and our life. This film has a peacekeeping mission..."
"You are the head of a rather large and interesting subdivision inside the state-run television company. What are your plans?"
"We are working according to the plan developed for this year. But we are already thinking about new projects."
"Do you think it might be worthwhile to reconsider the attitude towards our history and create a whole series of programs that would unobtrusively tell our viewers (and perhaps not only ours!) the historical truth about the nature of the centuries-old conflict? I am not talking about lectures from the screen, which we get anyway in excellent format from CBC, but about documentary-fiction serials."
"Perfect! Just send me a synopsis! We are open to all sorts of ideas and announce a competition for the best synopsis or screenplay. We do not limit the choice of topics. We will consider everything. We have a lot of talented creative people in our country whom we do not know. I would like them to be active and respond to our call and proposal. We will be glad if these proposals are interesting for many creative and initiative people…"
"Maybe this does not make sense, because cinema apparently began losing its position of the leading form of art?"
"Not at all! On the contrary. Cinema is strengthening its position. It is in demand today and will be in demand tomorrow. Because the world reads less and less. The world looks at the screen."
"What's on the screen?"
"It depends on you, on the personality of the artist. But I'm afraid that's another topic."
"What would your film be about today if you had an opportunity to make one gain?"
“I’m just getting ready for this. The working title of my new film is Maryam. But I won't reveal the plot yet. It is too early.”
"You can at least give a hint…"
"Okay. It is about a girl who comes to Azerbaijan from another country to find her father..."
"Good luck, Elchin! I wish peace to you and our land."
"I wish the restoration of justice, victory and peace to our people, our country and government."