Hot Docs 2021: “The Caviar Connection”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Probably it’s not the best idea to review a film that goes deep into my soul. Especially when it covers the outrageous corruption occurring in post-Soviet countries, including Azerbaijan – the land of fire, rich with Caspian oil, open-heartedness, famous for its warm hospitality, yet uses all the tricks to cover up injustice, human rights violation and has successfully expanded corruption dangerously to a level so powerful that no civilized country is willing to stop it.

How does dictatorship thrive? Why does nobody call out their lies? Why does the seemingly obvious corruption in a country with a police regime keeps getting all the big names invited to the country to celebrate an event that even the Western World won’t have enough money to spend on? Why nobody like Elton John, Lady Gaga or Jennifer Lopez opened up Google to check before accepting an offer for a brief show in countries like Azerbaijan, Tajikistan or Uzbekistan? A specific brand, known as ‘caviar diplomacy’, is being used as a lobbying power that creates an unbreakable shield for human rights abusers, suppressors of free speech and murderers of democracy in a regime that goes unchecked without any impediment.

“The Caviar Connection” goes deep into the root of corruption in Azerbaijan and how the Dynastic governing family promotes the so-called democracy in Europe, specifically creating a false perception of freedom of speech, rule of law, while it has political prisoners, goes after journalists, and how the famous investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was sent to prison to silence her. The director, impressively bold enough, goes after European parliament, corrupt councils and the tool they use to receive monetary gifts in exchange for either closing their eyes on what Azerbaijan does or helping the rich country with oil to maintain the status quo below the surface, while above it pretends to be the most democratic country on Earth.

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