The Damned and the Sacred | Chicago Reader

The Damned and the Sacred

Dutch documentarian Jos de Putter directed this 2002 feature about Daymokhk, a children's dance troupe from war-torn Chechnya, as it tours Europe by bus. Intercut with this filmed footage is video shot back in Grozny, where the kids practice their steps in front of bombed-out buildings. De Putter has a great eye for the beauty of children's faces, and the dancers, many of whom have lost friends, fathers, and brothers to the Russian invasions of 1994 and '99, speak calmly and with great poise about their grief-laden lives. The dance sequences crackle with energy, but there's no overlooking the irony of the boys' cossack costumes and traditional dances involving swords, shields, and hurled knives. In Chechen and Russian with subtitles. 75 min.

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