Helen Doyle's documentary Birlyant, Une Histoire Tchetchene etches out a profile of Birlyant Ramzaeva, a musician and songwriter bound to a hellish life in war-torn Chechnya. At the heart of the film is the multifaceted relationship between Ramzaeva and her mentor, scribe Makkal Sabdoulaev, which comes to an abrupt and tragic end when Sabdoulaev is carted away to an uncertain future in July 2000 at the hands of Russian captors. Before his disappearance, however, he takes a heart-rending step by signing many texts that Birlyant set to music. The film sheds a penetrating light on the struggles in 21st century Chechnya by filtering it through the life and perspective of one remarkable woman.
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