Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani documentary on Karabakh released

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Hardening attitudes on both sides of the conflict have slowed the release of the film, nine years in the making.
Joshua Kucera-  Eurasianet.org
Filming of Parts of a Circle, a groundbreaking documentary about the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict jointly produced by filmmakers on both sides. (photo: Conciliation Resources)
A long-awaited documentary film produced by a mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani team has gotten a partial public release, even as the full film remains under wraps due to the sensitivity of the subject.Production of the film, Parts of a Circle: History of the Karabakh Conflict, began in 2011. It has been facilitated by a UK-based peacebuilding organization, Conciliation Resources, and filmed, written and edited by a team of veteran journalists and activists from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan proper.

The full film – in three parts of an hour each – was completed in early 2016. But by that time space for honest discussion about the conflict had shrunk enough so that the producers felt it would be unwise to release the film.

“Even before the ‘four-day war’ in April of that year we were concerned about the implications of a wide release for some of our partners,” said Laurence Broers, the Caucasus Program Director at Conciliation Resources, referring to the burst of heavy fighting between the two sides that significantly hardened attitudes on both sides.

“Some of the Azerbaijani interviewees in the films had been arrested and tried, including on charges related to peacebuilding work,” Broers told Eurasianet. “We were still thinking these issues through when the four-day war broke out. After that we recognized that the dissemination of the films would need to be low-key and gradual.”

Those films have been shown to invited audiences in the Caucasus and beyond, but have yet to be released publicly.

The producers then began to work on a shorter version, summarizing the entire work and making it easier to consume as a whole. “We felt that was important given the selectivity that is a defining feature of the febrile propaganda war ongoing between the parties,” Broers said.

That 76-minute film was published on the streaming platform Vimeo on May 12. It provides the best documentary treatment to date of the conflict, from its origins in the late 1980s to the impact of Armenia’s 2018 “Velvet Revolution.”

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