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France,Belgium, 2020

Production : Dublin Films, Maelstrom Studios, Need Productions

Programmed by Jérémie Jorrand



États généraux du film documentaire 2021 - Sélection "Expériences du regard"

The États Généraux film festival


Khavaj, a young MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter, fled Chechnya when his brother discovered his homosexuality and promised to kill him, under the persecution of Kadyrov’s regime. In Brussels, facing the shock of exil, he is struck by mutism. The only link that he keeps with Chechnya are the vocal messages that his mother sends him. The film traces Khavaj’s first months in Belgium. Forced to live in total anonymity to escape the Chechen diaspora, he will try to build a new identity.

Tënk's opinion

Khavaj is a body, a neck, a torso, muscles… he’s also a throat that he massages and clears as he keeps trying to get his voice back. “Psychogenic aphonia” is the speech therapist’s immediate diagnosis – Khavaj’s past in Chechnya refuses to cross the threshold of his throat, and his words remain locked inside. The film follows his character in his daily wandering, waiting and hoping to be granted asylum, looked after by volunteers who help exiled homosexuals who’ve fled persecution in their home countries. The ominous danger hovering over the entire movie is embodied in the ban on filming the young man’s face. But something seems to be set free in Khavaj, and in the film. Although at first his body is piecemeal, it gradually regains its integrity and energy, and Khavaj raises his lowered head, allowing his ferocity to re-emerge. A harrowing journey of solitude and exile, filmed as close to his body as possible.

Jérémie Jorrand
Tënk's Editorial and programming Director

Item 1 of 4
Item 1 of 4

Item 1 of 4