|Georgia—Caucasus Film Festival a Hit|
|April 01, 2012|
A week-long Caucasus Cinema Festival is underway in Tbilisi. In a region marked by discord during the post-Soviet era, the festival strives to promote peace-building by highlighting cultural commonalities.
The driving force behind the festival is Claire Delessard, who serves as a Regional Conflicts Adviser for the Northern and Southern Caucasus attached to the British Embassy in Tbilisi. The EU is helping to fund the film series.
“Caucasian people had always been living together without division lines for centuries,” Delessard said in an email interview. “We thus wanted for people to remember these times through cinema.”
The festival kicked off on March 26 with a screening of one of the most famous films made during the Soviet era, Sergey Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates (Sayat Nova). Made in 1968, the film is a dream-like fantasy that recounts the life and death of an 18th century Armenian bard. (A drastic departure from the state-approved style of Soviet realism, the film helped earn Parajanov four years of prison camps in the1970s.)
Another Parajanov classic, The Shadow of Forgotten Ancestors, a story of family rivalries set in a Ukrainian Hutsul village, will also be screened during the festival.
“This film is not only an historical lesson for us, but also a cinema masterpiece,” Delessard said.
Other films in the lineup include Highlander, a 1992 film directed by the Ossetian director Murat Djusoev that depicts life in the mountains of the Caucasus. The oldest film being screened is a Georgian silent picture from 1929, My Grandmother, directed by Kote Miqaberidze, while the most recently released film is 2010’s Precinct (Sahə), an Azerbaijani drama involving romance and career choices.
“We also have ‘Souvenirs’, a film made by the Abkhaz film maker Viacheslav Ablotia and produced by Georgian Films in 1986. This story is about Abkhazia trying to keep its identity within the Soviet Union. One negative copy was being kept at Georgian Films, so we restored and scanned it,” Delessard noted. “A copy will go to the film maker of course, and we will screen it in Tbilisi tonight [March 28] for the first time after almost 30 years.”
Filmmakers, studios and national film agencies have been “extremely supportive” of the film festival, easing access to archives and helping with logistics, Delessard said.
“The public’s reaction has also been very encouraging. (…) I felt that there was a real interest or even curiosity in Tbilisi for the Ossetian films that we screened on Tuesday [March 27],” she said.
The festival runs through March 31, with at least seven screenings still scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.