The Return / Хайтарма

Published: April 30, 2017

The Return (Хайтарма / Qaytarma) is a 2013 Crimean-Tatar (not to be confused with simply Tatar!) dramatic film. It was produced in Ukraine and is in both Russian and Crimean Tatar languages.

The film tells the story of the events of May 1944, when over the course of a few days Stalin had the Crimean Tatars deported from their native land, Crimea. (Most of them were moved to Uzbekistan, and were not able to return to Crimea until the late 1980s. The event is now considered a genocide.) The story is told through the eyes of Soviet fighter pilot Amet-Khan Sultan (Амет-Хан Султан in Russian, Amet-Han Sultan in Crimean Tatar), who took a brief leave from service to visit his family in Crimea and thus witnessed the deportation—including of the people closest to him. Sultan is based on a real person of the same name, an important figure in Crimean Tatar history.

The film’s director and star is Akhtem Seytablaev (Ахтем Сейтаблаев in Russian, Ahtem Şevket oğlu Seytablayev in Crimean Tatar), a Crimean Tatar who was born in exile in Uzbekistan. He is a well-known actor in Ukraine and Russia and has twice won State Prizes of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Another of the lead roles was played by Oleksiy Gorbunov (Олексій Горбунов), a highly lauded Ukrainian actor whose vast filmography includes Me Ivan, You AbrahamIllusion of Fear; and the 2013 Russian Sherlock Holmes.

The film won several prestigious awards in 2013 and 2014, including a Russian Nika award for best film from the CIS and the Baltics (i.e., the former Soviet republics). It won a number of international awards and Ukrainian awards, as well. It is generally very highly regarded by audiences.


Director: Akhtem Seytablaev (Ахтем Сейтаблаев / Ahtem Seytablayev)
Stars: Akhtem Seytablaev (Ахтем Сейтаблаев /Ahtem Seytablayev), Oleksiy Gorbunov (Олексій Горбунов), Valeriy Shitovalov (Валерий Шитовалов), Usnie Khalilova (Усние Халилова), Yuriy Tsurilo (Юрий Цурило), Nikolay Boklan (Николай Боклан)
Production company: Telekanal ATR


The trailer:





About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

View all posts by: Julie Hersh