UK Premiere for ‘The Son’ Documentary Film on Karabakh Conflict

Director Karan Singh (3rd from R) and producer Eckart Sager (2nd from L) with Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the UK Elin Suleymanov (3rd from L) at the BAFTA screening

The screening at BAFTA’s Princess Anne Theatre brought the investigative documentary to the London audience.

Most people in the West are unaware that Azerbaijanis were forcibly evicted from Karabakh in the 1990s by Armenia. This film puts a spotlight on the plight of Azerbaijanis forced to flee their homes.”

— Tale Heydarov

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, March 14, 2024 / — A documentary film highlighting the human tragedy of missing prisoners of war had its UK premiere on Wednesday. The Son, directed by Karan Singh, investigates the disappearance of a young prisoner of war, Natig Gasimov, during the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1992.

At the screening at BAFTA’s Princess Anne Theatre, the film received loud applause from the large audience. This follows its screening at the prestigious Mumbai International Film Festival, where it was part of the official selection.

The Son uses unpublished photos taken by Italian war photographer Enrico Sarsini, who covered the conflict for Russia’s Ogoniok magazine at the time. He was present with Armenian forces at their siege of a strategically-located church near Agdam that was defended by Gasimov, a 19-year-old Azerbaijani volunteer.

Gasimov later surrendered in exchange for the lives of Azerbaijani hostages held by Armenian forces. He was then interrogated by Armenian officers and soldiers. Sarsini was present and took photos of this interrogation, but he then had to leave to return to Moscow. After his departure, the young Azerbaijani prisoner of war was never heard of again.

The 46-minute documentary finds out what happened to Gasimov, uncovering new evidence that points to those responsible for his disappearance, particularly retired Armenian officer Lt. General Vitaly Balasanyan who the film reveals was present at Gasimov’s interrogation.

Filmed over a period of three years, director Karan Singh spoke to witnesses in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Italy and Russia in his search for the truth. He travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh, which was under Armenian control at the time, to meet local Armenian officials and to track down the church defended by Gasimov.

The London-based filmmaker met the family of Gasimov in the Azerbaijani city of Ganja, who still believed that he is alive and would return. The film shows a particularly emotional moment when Gasimov’s mother sees the last photos taken of her son by Sarsini.

“This is a universal story that people everywhere can relate to: a grieving family denied closure, a mother waiting for her son for over three decades,” said Singh.

With Azerbaijan recovering all its lost territories in 2020 and 2023, the questions this documentary raises are as important as ever.

“Most people in the West are unaware that Azerbaijani civilians were forcibly evicted from Karabakh in the 1990s by Armenia. This film puts a spotlight on the plight of Azerbaijanis who were forced to flee their homes, and shows why it was so important for Azerbaijan to liberate its internationally-recognised territory from Armenian occupation,” said the film’s executive producer Tale Heydarov.

The BAFTA screening was attended by the Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the U.K., Elin Suleymanov.

“Our story resonates today, as mothers continue to lose their sons due to wars and war crimes, from the battlefields in Ukraine to the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East,” said Eckart Sager, the producer of The Son. “Most of them go unnoticed. Due to our investigation and film, Natig’s family has closure.”

The Son held its world premiere at the Whistleblower Film Festival in Washington D.C. that highlights civil and human rights violations across the globe.

Karan Singh
Broken Pot Media Ltd.
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