Short film “Neither Living Nor Dead” won the Best Short Animation award at the Montreal

The  animated short film “Neither Living Nor Dead” produced by the Memory project and animator Sofia Voznaya recently won the Best Short Animation award at the Montreal Women’s Film Festival. This is a prominent festival aimed at displaying the works of women in the film industry.

The Montreal Women’s Film Festival, held bi-annually on March 8th for International Women’s Day and August 26th for Women’s Equality Day, provides a platform for female filmmakers. Through screenings at Cinema du Parc in Montreal, the festival is committed to promoting and celebrating the work of women in film. The festival aims to empower skilled female directors, writers, editors, and producers in the film industry.

Winning the Best Short Animation award at such a prestigious festival is a significant achievement for “Neither Living Nor Dead.” This recognition not only honors the storytelling and animation of the film but also amplifies its crucial message about human rights and justice. In addition it also underscores the importance of giving a voice to the voiceless survivors of grave violations and ensuring that stories of resilience and justice are heard.

The narrative of “Neither Living Nor Dead” focuses on the issue of enforced disappearances in Chechnya, where between 3,000 and 5,000 people went missing during the second war  (1999-2009) and the following years.  Usually these men and women disappeared after being detained or abducted by the Russian state agents. This issue remains relevant in today’s Chechnya too. It is not just a historical event, but an ongoing human rights crisis that continues to affect many lives. The film is grounded in the powerful testimonies gathered by the Memory Project researchers in Grozny, giving voice to relatives of the disappeared, who were often first-hand witnesses of the abductions.

The narrative of “Neither Living Nor Dead” is very compelling. It vividly depicts the challenges of families who had their loved ones taken away from them, leaving them in a state of unimaginable uncertainty and pain for years. This is the reality faced by thousands of families in Chechnya. These families persistently search for their missing relatives despite the state’s efforts to conceal these crimes and protect the perpetrators from accountability. Unable to mourn properly without knowing the fate of their missing family members, these individuals still hold onto hope and strive for justice.

“Neither Living Nor Dead” is not just a film; it is a statement against enforced disappearances – a gross violation of human rights, an international crime with no statute of limitations. The film calls on the audience to stand in solidarity with the victims and their families, demanding truth and justice.