Back in 2008, Alex Remington of The Huffington Post wrote an editorial asking why Hollywood hasn't made a movie in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Such a query may be changing now after two former Chechnyan brothers locked down the entire city of Boston after a terrorist spree with bombs and other black market weapons. But despite the terrorist mind and some radical Islamic groups still existing in Chechnya today, it's trying and sometimes succeeding in being stable. It also holds enough fascinating history and culture to easily make an Oscar-worthy movie.
The thought may be that it's still too dangerous to film there when terrorism skirmishes could happen intermittently as much as they now can in America. Regardless, filmmakers seeking out new environments to make a political statement or searching new cinematographic vistas would find plenty of interesting social issues and scenery in Chechnya. It doesn't even have to be about the two Chechnyan wars that dominated the region during the 1990s and 2000s.
When bon vivant French actor Gerard Depardieu fled to live in the Russian region after bailing on his taxes in France last year, a stronger inspiration for filmmaking arrived. No matter your opinion on Depardieu's personal issues, his moving there and befriending the republic head is equivalent to Sir Laurence Olivier once moving into a foreign country that understood the British. If you didn't know, the French have a kinship with the Chechnyans in how they deal with government revolutions and general lifestyle.
It's that connection alone that may be inspiring Depardieu to want to make what he says is a "great" film in Chechnya. Would he beat American filmmakers into making a movie that explores the complexities of the people there and the haunting war aftermath? Or would it be an historical piece that tells about Chechnya's own government revolution that occurred long before the French did their more famous overthrow?
Russian filmmakers have already done a number of excellent movies (both fictional and documentaries) about the two earlier Chechnyan wars. "House of Fools" in 2002 is one of the most compelling, namely because it deals with mental illness as a juxtaposition to the conflicts. It's close to being one of the greatest cinematic explorations of how wars affect people, and it's highly graphic.
Ironically, one of the best documentaries ever done in Chechnya is from Finland. "The Three Rooms of Melancholia" is done in three distinct chapters detailing the physical and mental hardships on children during the battles. Also not easy to watch, it easily gives tangential insight into how the minds of the Tsarnaev brothers were formed as children before moving to America.
Those movies can be a jumping off point for an American filmmaker planning a movie about the Chechnyan people. American moviegoers really need one now that we know determined terrorists are in the region and that even the good Chechnyan people fight for what they really want. Having all of that in a modern-day story during a post-war period makes for a highly different social portrait.
Even Depardieu may want to act in it if we get there first before he starts his own production. With his stunning resemblance to his friend, republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, he could ably play the colorful leader.
International cooperation like that would help American moviegoers with too many other things on their minds finally understand an important part of the world that still holds far too many unknowns.
- Gerard Depardieu