Cinema For Human Rights
An International Film Festival: “Cinema Against Lies” will held in Vilnius on 1-7 August 2009 for supporting Khadizhat and Malik Gataev.
Khadizhat Gataeva (1964), the “Angel of Grozny” in Åsne Seierstad’s book of the same name, and her husband, Malik Gataev (1966) were arrested on 16 October 2008 by Lithuanian security police in Kaunas, lrytas.lt reports. The couple runs an orphanage for Chechen refugee children in Kaunas and another orphanage in the Chechen capital, Grozny. In June 2009 Khadizhat and Malik Gataev were sentenced to 10 months jail instead of almost 5 years demanded by the prosecutor. It could have been regarded as victory after criminal case under severe charges of human trafficking and money extortion. However, there is no justice in the sentence that destroys the good name of innocent people.
The time has come to stand up not only for the freedom of Khadizhat and Malik but for their good name. The security police of Lithuania as well as the prosecutor have also demonstrated the benign character of the fabricated criminal case by subjecting some of the foster children of the Gataevs, their friends and supporters from among common people of Lithuania, to various forms of harassment, including judicial. Preventing further revenge steps against them is possible only by making their cases public.
Before their arrest in Kaunas in October 2008, the Gataevs ran two orphanages, one in Grozny, Chechnya, and one in Kaunas. Khadizhat and Malik Gataev have been featured in many writings and other works documenting the situation in Chechnya. Anna Politkovskaya wrote about “Rodnaya Semya” orphanage that became a family for more than sixty children. Khadizhat appears in the prize-winning documentary film “Three Rooms of Melancholia” by the Finnish director Pirjo Honkasalo. She is the central figure in the book “The Angel of Grozny” by the Norwegian journalist, Åsne Seierstad. Recently killed Natalya Estemirova, a Chechen human rights defender and a journalist, was one of those who didn’t turn away from Khadizhat and Malik at the time of an odd investigation and the consequent court trial that lacked transparency. One of the last Natalya’s articles published in the Novaya Gazeta was on the abduction of one of their foster children, Malik Utsaev, in Grozny, which coincided in time with the detention of his parents in Kaunas.
Khadizhat and Malik Gataev had rescued orphans from the streets of Grozny and elsewhere since the first war broke out in Chechnya. They took custody of the first children in 1996 when hostilities ceased. Khadizhat was raised in an orphanage herself. It was her main motivation to take care of the children abandoned by the war. Their love and devotion to their Motherland have manifested themselves in taking care of the future of their Chechnya, its children who were made destitute by the war.
An international group of supporters of Khadizhat and Malik Gataev as well as of their children have organized the “Cinema against Lies” film festival in Vilnius to raise public awareness in Lithuania and remind politicians of Lithuania about the obligation to comply to the norms of the membership in the European Union.
Pirjo Honkasalo is going to screen the acclaimed “Three Rooms of Melancholia” to remind what kind of family the Gataevs had created in the long years prior to the blow at the back by the Lithuanian authorities. There will be also presented films by Aki Kaurismäki (Finland), Arto Halonen (Finland), Andrey Nekrasov and Nikolay Olejnikov (Russia) and Linda Jablonska (Czech Republic).
The newly elected chair of the Subcommittee on the Human Rights at the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala (Finland), has expressed her firm commitment to attend the festival and also support the course.
The festival will be also the homage to the two slain supporters of Khadizhat and Malik Gataev, Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova.
The festival organizes by Finnish Dzhima Ditt (Small Tree), Finnish Peace Committee, Rosebud Books Oy, Sputnik Oy and individuals in Lithuania.
During the festival, Pirjo Honkasalo is going to screen the acclaimed “The 3 Rooms of Melancholia” to remind what kind of family the Gataevs had created in the long years prior to the blow at the back by the Lithuanian authorities. The other films are:
“I Hired a Contract Killer”; “Drifting Clouds”; “Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana”; “The Man Without a Past” by Aki Kaurismaki
“Disbelief” by Andrey Nekrasov (Russia)
“Welcome to North Korea” by Linda Jablonska (Checz Republic)
“Grenel Agreements” by Nikolay Olejnikov (Russia)
“In the Shadow of the Holy Book” by Arto Halonen (Finland)
“Barzakh” by Mantas Kvedaravicius (Lithuania)
“Where Is My Friend’s House?” by Abbas Kiarostami (Iran)
“Eternity And a Day” by Theo Angelopoulos (Greece)
“Frozen Land” by Aku Louhimies (Finland)
The festival will held in Forum Cinemas Vingis (Savanoriu pr. 7, Vilnius, Lithuania, tel. +370 52 644 764; http://www.forumcinemas.lt/cinemas/) and prices of tickets are 5 Euro. (Screenings times will be announced later.) For more information you may visit to offical webpage of the festival: http://www.cinemafhr.net