First Caucasus Cinema Festival

Her Majesty Ambassador Judith Gough (left) and Claire Delessard talk before the screening of the final film at the Caucasus Cinema Festival in Tbilisi; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasus, the “Caucasus is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on Earth.” The Caucasus includes Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan; as well as Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan. Plus the Caucasus includes three territories that claim independence: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. If you’re from the United States, like me, I suspect you know very little about this region. Which is why the Caucasus Cinema Festival is such a great idea. For a week, you could watch and learn from 12 old and new films from several of these areas.

Not only foreigners can learn from these films. People from the Caucasus attended the festival and learned about each other’s cultures. I talked with Claire Delessard, who organized the festival for the British Embassy in Georgia, and she said that Armenians living in Tbilisi loved seeing the Azerbaijan films, which they could not see at home (the countries are at war), and the Azeris enjoyed watching the Armenian films. Everyone enjoyed the Ossetian films. 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].” In fact, Delessard said that a goal of the festival was to “promote peace-building by highlighting cultural commonalities. Caucasian people had always been living together without division lines for centuries. We thus wanted for people to remember these times through cinema.” http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65193

I was only able to view two films: My Grand Mother, 1929, a silent film; and Late Marriage, 2001. You can read about them here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355586/ and here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0287471/.

In Tbilisi, the films were shown at the Literary Museum, and the films will also be shown in Yerevan, Armenia; and Baku, Azerbaijan. Before the final film in Tbilisi, Late Marriage, Her Majesty Judith Gough, British Ambassador to Georgia, made some brief remarks. It was so refreshing to see an ambassador dressed casually in jeans and a light blue sweater.

Maybe one day the Caucasus Film Festival will screen my film, Will Tourism Change Adishi, Georgia, for the Better?

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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