Documentary on Azerbaijani Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) screened in Paris

Press Release: On 11 April 2013, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) organised a screening of the new documentary, The Waiting, directed by Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson, which addresses the ongoing tragedy of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Azerbaijan. The film was shown as part of the L’Europe autour de l’Europe (Europe around Europe) festival. This is taking place at various venues across Paris from 13 March to 14 April 2013, featuring screenings of around 65 feature films, documentaries, shorts, animated films and experimental films made by European cinema auteurs. In addition to cinefiles, the audience included historians and MPs, such as Deputy Thierry Mariani, President, France–Azerbaijan Friendship Group, French National Assembly.

In her opening speech, Eliza Pieter, Head, TEAS France, congratulated the festival organisers for this initiative and stressed the importance of such events for the promotion of European culture in all its diversity. She reminded the audience of the plight of the Azerbaijani IDPs who were forced to flee their lands and homes during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and remain unable to return home, due to the lack of an international settlement. She then introduced Chingiz Abdullayev, Executive Producer of the film, who travelled from Azerbaijan to attend the event. Mr Abdullayev is a writer, Secretary of the Union of Azerbaijani Writers and President of the PEN club.

The Waiting tells the story of the IDPs in Azerbaijan, who were forced to leave their homes during the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions, which raged from 1988–94. Following this conflict, which killed thousands of people, more than 600,000 Azerbaijanis became IDPs. The country now has one of the highest numbers of IDPs per capita in the world. With the peace process stalled, and the constant threat of resuming all-out war, The Waiting is a vivid and compelling portrait of those driven by the hope that one day they will return home.

Following the screening, Irena Bilic, Director, L’Europe autour de l’Europe Festival, said: “It is important to show such films where the film producers try to present the realities of a complex situation through artistic expression.” Chingiz Abdullayev then added: “Around the world, millions of people are displaced within their own country. We often see articles and films about refugees, but less attention is given to IDPs, whose living conditions can sometimes be extreme. With this film, I wanted to put a spotlight on the situation of IDPs in Azerbaijan, which is particularly critical, as there is no prospect of them returning home whilst the conflict remains unresolved.” He thanked the organisers of the event and expressed his desire to see this film presented in other festivals. During the discussion, he participated in a question-and-answer session on the genesis of the film, the choice of directors and the current situation of the IDPs in Azerbaijan.

The screening was followed by refreshments and the signing of books by Chingiz Abdullayev. For more information about the film visit the official website: www.thewaitingfilm.com

Watch The Waiting trailer here: