Evge (Homeward) as seen by Nariman Aliev

Picture of the movie EVGE ( Homeward ) © DR

In his debut feature film Evge (Homeward), young Ukranian director Nariman Aliev tackles the Russian annexation of Crimea through the saga of Mustafa: the Crimean Tatar's eldest son has been killed in the conflict and he decides to transport to body to his homeland for burial helped by his younger son. The film is in competition for the Caméra d'Or.

What inspired you to begin work on this film ?

Five years ago, when Crimea was annexed, a lot of people heard of my nation – Crimean Tatars – for the first time. In those difficult times, we supported the sovereignty of Ukraine, despite military intervention by Russia. Since then, most activists had to leave Crimea, and those who stayed there have been persecuted for their political and religious beliefs. There are a lot of stereotypes about Crimean Tatars both in Ukraine and in the rest of the world. It’s impossible to show the full picture in one film or in one interview. However, I would like to start with the gist by showing the importance of family values and love for the Homeland. This is what I was taught in my childhood and this is what I will believe in until I die.

Please describe your working method and the atmosphere on set.

I stand for punctuality and speed. I don’t like to waste time. Although the film is emotional, the shooting was smooth. It was fast paced, as we had a limited number of shooting days. But I derived pleasure from working with professionals. On the first day on set, when I gave a speech in front of the whole team, my main point was: “I really want that in the end no one is embarrassed with having worked on this project.” Now I would really like to thank everyone who has contributed to the creation of our film.

Please share a few words about your actors.

Main parts are played by Crimean Tatars, as it was crucial for me to preserve authenticity. And it is especially heartwarming that 50% of the film is in Crimean Tatar language. The part of the father is played by Akhtem Seitablayev. He is a well-known actor and director in Ukraine. I am grateful to him; with his experience in the film industry he fully trusted me and took the part very seriously. Remzi Bilyalov plays the part of the younger son. He is my cousin, he isn’t a professional actor. I have worked with him before – he acted in my short film Sensiz (“Without You”) along with his elder brother Fevzi. He paid me a big favor, he is not into cinematography at all, but for my sake he agreed to take part in the film. It was hard for Remzi, but he has gone through the whole process with dignity.

What inspired you to become a filmmaker ?

I entered a film school when I was 16. I was young, naïve, and knew absolutely nothing about filmmaking. When I edited my first short film as a school project, I cried because it was terrible. For me, filmmaking has little to do with inspiration, this is a team work where director sets the direction based on his cinematographic preferences. Support from my family and faith of the whole team in our project are the things I value the most. This is what gives strength to move forward.