“Vakha and Magomed”, directed by Marta Prus,will be screened at the most important documentary festival in Amsterdam (IDFA). In an interview with Bolesław Racięski, the director talks about the protagonists and the difficult situation they are in.

Vakha is the father, Magomed – his son. Both Chechens live in a Centre for Foreigners in Warsaw’s district, Bielany, where the rhythm of their peaceful lives is determined by shared meals, kickboxing trainings, and playing computer games. In her film, Marta Prus observes the relationship between the protagonists, and at the same time she watches the process of creating a substitute of home in the Centre. However, the title characters are burdened with the curse of war, which calls into question the possibility of restoring the former equilibrium. 


How did you first hear about Vakha and Magomen? What made you decide to share their story? 

Marta Prus: I've spent three weeks in the Centre for Foreigners Warszawa-Bielany looking for the right protagonist. Every day I was meeting many people and listening to their stories. One of the volunteers told me about Vakha and Magomed. When I have met them personally and seen this special relationship between father and son, I knew this could be an interesting way to present the situation of refugees. To make a film about love and dignity of people living in difficult conditions. 

How did they react to the idea of shooting their everyday life, marked with a personal and very deep tragedy? 

M. P.: We established a very good relationship based on trust. That's why they were frank. At the beginning, they asked a lot of questions, they said their life is boring, that nothing ever happened. They didn’t understand why I want to focus on them. I explained everything in detail. 

During the shooting, you had to spend a lot of time in the Centre. What were your impressions? 

M. P.:This centre doesn't exist anymore, but there are others, unfortunately. Well, it's impossible to get a positive impression of such a place... 

Adults don't want to assimilate, they spend their days in cramped rooms. Only the children are more lively, I've seen them playing in their own company. It was a place full of disoriented and miserable people living in a limbo. It's very difficult to help them in any way. 

The film was produced last year. Do you know what happened with the protagonists? 

M. P.: We are and will remain close; we meet in Warsaw, to the extent possible. There haven't been major changes in their lives. They moved near Warsaw, Vakha sometimes works, Magomed goes to a Polish school and trains kickboxing. They're waiting for the time when they will be able to return to Chechnya.

Are you working on a new film? 

M. P.: Constantly :)