Thursday, July 21, 2005

Beslan Film

I managed to catch Kevin Sim's film Beslan on UK Channel 4 this evening. As one might expect, the documentary raises more questions than it answers. It's a powerful film, largely compiled from newsreel footage, perhaps spoiled at times by unnecessary background music, and a certain "dramatic effect" element that also seems redundant, given the subject matter. Nonetheless, the interviews with survivors and with relatives of those who perished in School No. 1 are genuine, deeply moving and convincing. One man whose personality came through very strongly was Ruslan Aushev, the former Ingushetian president who tried to negotiate with the hostage-takers. The film makes it clear beyond doubt that he was sidelined by the Russian federal authorities, who were intent on ordering the storming of the school. The personalities and motivation of the terrorists were much less clear - and this is where the questions arise. Aushev stated that the men who seized the school were not high on drugs at all, but merely extremely confident. And the question of what happened to them is also obscure: it seems possible that instead of being killed, as the authorities claim, they escaped and got away.

The issue of the use of rocket flamethrowers in the ending of the siege is not mentioned in the film, though the scenes showing the blaze they caused are included.

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