Documentary: From Home to Home

An ethnic Azeri originally from Armenia reads aloud the Armenian inscriptions of the tombstones in his village in Azerbaijan. An ethnic Armenian from Azerbaijan videos the Azeri graveyard in his village in Armenia, speaking over the tape in Azerbaijani before sending it off to the families of those that used to live there instead of him. In a region where negative stories and stereotypes of the “enemy” abound, it’s an example of a promise kept between two peoples until this day that is seldom told.

From Home to Home by Seda Muradyan and Arsen Gasparyan is an exception to that rule, and tell a fascinating story of a mutual pact between two sides still effectively at war over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, but who continue to respect the past in the hope of contributing to a better future.

In 1989, the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh had been escalating for a year. The Soviet regime proved unable to curb the violence. Armenians living in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis living in Armenia were forced to leave.

Two villages — Kzlshafag (now Dzyunashogh) in Armenia and Kerkenj in Azerbaijan — lay hundreds of kilometers away from each other. Until 1989, Kzlshafag was inhabited by Azerbaijanis, and Kerkenj, by Armenians.

The people in these two villages found a solution of their own: they swapped villages and countries, and made a unique deal.

The Frontline Club caught up with Seda Muradyan, a veteran journalist and also the Country Director for the London-based Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) in Yerevan yesterday to record an interview on a Nokia N82 about From Home to Home. A clip from the documentary film is used by kind permission of the author.