The Cannes and Tallinn Black Nights film festivals have expressed solidarity with feature debutant Nora Martirosyan’s “Should the Wind Drop” after political pressure to stop festival screenings.
The film is set and shot on location in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly in its capital Stepanakert and the nearby airport. The region saw a bloody war erupt between Azerbaijan and Armenia from 1988-1994 and hostilities erupted again in September before a ceasefire was agreed upon last week.
Grégoire Colin plays a Frenchman who arrives at the airport to conduct an audit to deem it fit for use, or not.
The film received a Cannes 2020 label and had its physical premiere in Paris in September, as part of the Cannes ACID screenings, around the same time that hostilities resumed in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Since then, Variety understands that the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan has issued letters opposing festival screenings. The ministry did not respond to requests for comment from Variety.
Festival directors have spoken out in support of the film. “The film isn’t sowing anger or hatred between nations. The film is a very poetic dream about freedom,” said Tallinn Black Nights director Tiina Lokk.
“If a brutal current event has caught us up, nothing will erase what the film, with depth and accuracy, reveals to us of a humanity that the director strives to unfold step by step,” Cannes’ ACID committee noted.
“The film gives even more: it gives us food for thought, a landscape, a people, a hope,” said Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux. ” ‘Should the Wind Drop’ forces us to see and understand. This is also the role of cinema.”
“The main character of the film is a country, a country that didn’t have a legal existence, but which was there in front of my camera to host the story that it inspired me: ‘Should the Wind Drop.’ But the wind didn’t drop, it became a storm that took away lives, hopes, future,” says Martirosyan. “Today the film witnesses the peaceful life and broken dreams.”
The film had its European premiere last week in the first features competition of Tallinn Black Nights. Martirosyan and Colin will be in attendance at the film’s next Tallinn screening on Thursday.
The film is produced by Sister Productions. Arizona Films Distribution was supposed to release it this week in France before the new lockdown was enforced. It is now scheduled for Jan. 20, 2021. Indie Sales is handling the film worldwide.