Chechnya, War Without Trace

Manon Loizeau

France 2015, 86 min.


Spoken language: Chechen, Russian

Subtitles: English

Dutch premiere

Festival year: 2016

A unique look at Chechnya’s remarkable transformation. This war-torn country has been replaced with a brand-new state where soaring skyscrapers and luxury malls have erased all traces of conflict. Behind the gleaming facade, the bereaved live in terror, oppression and uncertainty about the fate of their vanished loved ones.


In just a few years, Chechnya has undergone a complete metamorphosis. Minefields and piles of rubble have been replaced with broad avenues, huge skyscrapers and luxury boutiques. These remain virtually empty, because few people have enough money to shop there. It is virtually impossible to see that not so long ago, a bloody war raged here.

However, the consequences of this devastating battle live on in the hearts and minds of the bereaved who saw their children, spouses and parents disappear. Many of them have no clue where their loved ones are, let alone have a grave to visit. However, talking about the past is taboo. The new avenues carry the names of powerful rulers Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov. On the birthdays of the great leaders, the people are ordered outside: everyone is forced to participate in the parade. Anyone who refuses will get fired, or worse.

Journalist Manon Loizeau has been reporting on the Chechen conflict for many years. After the war, she returned to a place she didn’t recognize: a country in a state of ‘complete schizophrenia’, its once proud people silenced by Putin.

Suffering, pain and fear hide behind the new facades of the rebuilt city of Grozny and in the shade of V. V. Putin Avenue, upon which a demonstration marches in celebration of the birthdays of the Russian and Chechen leaders. Ramzan Kadyrov has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist for more than 10 years. He decides who disappears and who lives. As stated by one of the activists featured in the film: "Chechnya is North Korea in the middle of the Russian Federation." The war, which left thousands dead and missing, is not openly discussed. The film mixes the moving stories of those who search in vain for their loved ones with footage capturing the polished surface of a country that is inwardly restless and unhappy. - See more at:

Official website:



Magneto Presse

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World sales:

Java Films

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Talkshows & debates

Chechnya, War Without Trace: Q&A with activist Oleg Khabibrakhmanov and Helga Salemon

Sunday, March 20, 2016 - 14:15

Q&A with activist Oleg Khabibrakhmanov and Russia expert Helga Salemon. Moderator is Kysia Hekster.

Chechnya, War Without Trace: Q&A with activist Oleg Khabibrakhmanov and director Manon Louizeau

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - 21:15

Q&A with activist Oleg Khabibrakhmanov and director Manon Louizeau. Moderator is Kirsten van den Hul.

Daily Matters Talk Show FRAMING FOCUS

Friday, March 25, 2016 - 21:00

Daily Matters talk show FRAMING FOCUS. VARA-presenter Elena Lindemans will talk with filmmakers about the process of making human rights films,

Chechnya, War Without Trace: Q&A with activist Oleg Khabibrakhmanov and expert Bert Lanting

Friday, March 25, 2016 - 19:00

After this special Wordt Vervolgd (Amnesty's magazine) screening Marnix de Bruyne will talk to activist Oleg Khabibrakhmanov and Russia expert Bert Lanting.