The Chill

(1991) USSR. ERKhUS.

Directed by Khusein Erkenov.

Written by Khusein Erkenov. Cinematography by Vladislav Men'shikov. Costume Design by Sergei Filenko. Sound by Viktor Kruitsyn. With Nilolai Eremenko, Jr., Okasana Pototskaia, Oleg Vasil'ev, Aleksandr Chislov, Liudmila Potapova.

In Russian with English Subtitles.

This mistreatment of these [ethnic minorities] western peoples of the Soviet Union is exceeded only by the deportation of certain entire small nations from the Crimea and Caucasus region. The first to whom this measure was applied were the Volga Germans, in 1941. Then, in the later stages of the war, the same was done to the Crimean Tartars, to the Meskhtian people from Georgia, to the Kalmyks of the steppe, and to four islamic mountain peoples, the Chechens, Ingushes, Balkars, and Karachais. They were all accused of having collaborated with the Germans, but it is clear that this was not always the case. The Volga Germans were deported before they had any chance to do so—though this, it could be argued, was a prophylactic measure—and only the Tartars and Kalmyks had known an appreciable period of German occupation. What probably is true is that these nations had all proved exceptionally resistant to Sovietization in the 1930s, and that Stalin was anxious to crush, beffore it could arise, any further possible resistance in the post-war transition period.
At any rate the operation was devised with inventive ruthlessness. In some cases, it is reported, the Soviet authorities, in deference to the warlike traditions of the peoples, invited the menfolk to celebrate Red Army Day at a banquet, which, as the traditions of hospitality required, they would attend unarmed. While they sat merrymaking in full dress uniform, the NKVD dragged the women and children out of their homes and loaded them on to cattle trucks bound eastwards. They then did the same to the replete and drunken men, who were in no condition to resist. Most of the mountain peoples were resettled in the plains of Kazakhstan, where to survive they had to take up a form of agriculture that was unfamiliar to them. Many of them abandoned it, and went off to live in shanty suburbs on the edges of the towns. Families sometims survived together, but the children had to attend schools where the only language of instruction was Russian. It seems, in short, as if Stalin intended to eliminate these nations as separate entities by depriving them of their homeland, their economy, their customs, their religion, and their language.

— From Geoffrey Hosking, The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1985. 254–5. (emphasis in original)

Khusein Erkenov was born in Tashkent (1960). He graduated from the L'vov Music School (1978) and worked as the director of a House of Culture in an aul, Kumysh, in what was formerly Karachaevo-Cherkessia. After working for several years at the Sverdlovsk Film Studios, he enrolled in VGIK, graduating from Sergei Gerasimov's film directing workshop (1988). In 1991 he organized ERKhUS, a private film production company. He writes the scripts for his own films.


1987 Kol'kad (short)
1990 A Hundred Days Before the Command
1991 The Chill
1993 Don't Shoot the Passenger!

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