New film focuses on love – not war – in Nagorno-Karabakh

The Dream of Karabakh, about a woman’s attachment to her village, is rooted in personal memories that cannot be moved, unlike borders

Lucia De La Torre

I first met Shushan in February 2021. The mother of five was living in Landjazat village, near Armenia’s barbed-wire border with Turkey. The house, which belonged to some of Shushan’s acquaintances who worked in Russia, had become her family’s temporary home after they were forced to flee Nagorno-Karabakh as the Second Karabakh War raged.

On the morning of 27 September 2020, Shushan and her family woke to the sound of explosions. In the days that followed, at least 3,700 Armenian and Karabakh soldiers, and nearly 200 civilians were killed in an offensive by Azerbaijani troops to take back territory in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Fighting ceased on 10 November 2020, when an agreement was signed by Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. As a consequence, Nagorno-Karabakh lost 70% of the territory that its de-facto administration had controlled since 1994, displacing nearly 70,000 Armenians.

This is the second mass displacement in the territory in a little over two decades. Disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it has seen years of war. By 1994, Armenian forces had taken full control of Nagorno-Karabakh, and full or partial control of seven other Azerbaijani regions bordering the territory. Though all of these areas were still internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, more than half a million Azerbaijani civilians were forcibly displaced from their homes….