The Making of a New Empire
About IDFA
The Making of a New Empire
IDFA 1999

The Making of a New Empire

Jos de Putter
98 min
Festival history
Khozh-Ahmed Noukhaev is the leader of the Chechen independence movement. A charismatic man who, sitting at a chessboard, goes over the political and military strategy with his advisers. His country, with the capital Groznyy, has been called ‘the Wild West’ for the last four hundred years; since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, anarchy rules and some say that the Mafia is governing the country. Filmmaker Jos de Putter was given a free hand to follow and film this self-appointed leader, who is continuously surrounded by bodyguards, from close by. The Chechen culture appears to be a mishmash of ancient religious rituals, which sharply contrast with Noukhaev’s modern leisure clothes. We see how Noukhaev pays a visit to England with president Maskhadov, where they are welcomed by Margaret Thatcher. The disparity between the war-torn city of Groznyy and the strictly arranged, rectilinear streets of the English capital has been captured tellingly and acutely. Is Noukhaev a cunning Mafia boss or a staunch idealist? Jos de Putter leaves it unresolved.
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    Jura Filmprodukties