“Haitarma”: A New Film About Tatar Deportation From Crimea
"Haitarma" means "Return" in Crimean Tatar. It is the first feature film about the deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944. All of the filming was done in Crimea several years before the annexation. Our correspondents met the film's director Akhtem Seitablaiev
“It is pain and memories. Memories of my father and my mother,” director Akhtem Seitablaiev said.
When Crimean Tatars were deported father of Akhtem Seitablaev was four and his mother was six. The movie Haitarma has three episodes based on the memories of his mother.
“Its all your life, all your whole life you hear all the time that you have to return to Crimea one day,” Seitablaiev said.
The family of Seitablaiev came back to Crimea when Akhtem was 17. He says that the movie about deportation is a way of returning a debt to his parents.
Before shooting crowd scenes the movie crew started looking for people who are willing to take part and thousands of Crimean Tatars responded to the call.
“They wanted to help us so much, they were so focused, they acted in the scenes perfectly, so well that I just could not force myself to call them extras,” he said.
People who survived deportation were also among the actors.
“I asked, ‘What is it for them?’ I would hear quite often that taking part in the shooting of this movie, especially in the scenes of deportation and the episodes when they are put in the cattle boxes is kind of a remedy for them, a bitter remedy,” Seitablaiev added.
People would bring things that have special meaning for their families. For example, in one of the things a man carries a sewing machine on his shoulder. The same one his mother managed to take with her to Uzbekistan in 1944.
“I just cannot imagine what people experienced on May 18, 1944. And I totally cannot imagine what are now experiencing Crimean Tatars that live in Crimea. Because arresting Crimean Tatars, knocking on their doors early in the morning is a method. Occupiers know the history of deportation well and they do everything possible to intimidate Crimean Tatars again,” he added.
Russia has banned screenings of the movie about the deportation on the territory of Russia and annexed Crimea. The official reason is “dishonoring soviet soldiers.”