“Undermining” his home

From the left, Salome Sepashvili, Zaza Burchuladze ,Zaza Rusadze, Salome Jashi, and Ana Dziapshpa are members of a panel listening to CSJMM students pitch their ideas for a documentary film; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

CSJMM students had 14 minutes to pitch their ideas for a documentary film to a panel of film experts. They showed a 4-8 minute trailer and then fielded questions. Their presentations and their films were in Georgian, so all I could do was watch the moving images.

The two best ideas will receive $3,000 each from IREX so that students can complete their documentary films.

One winner concerns a tunnel being built underneath a village. Some of the houses have already collapsed due to the underground construction. One man, whose home sits directly above the tunnel’s path, works on the crew constructing the tunnel. Six days a week, he goes down into tunnel, works all day,  then returns above ground to see how much damage has been done to his home. He is literally undermining his home.

Zura Nizharadze, in the documentary film, Teacher From Khaishi.

The other winner concerns the Svaneti village  Khaishi, which will be flooded when a power plant is constructed. Teacher From Khaishi tells the story of Zura Nizharadze, who leads the opposition to the project. His family’s house will be destroyed as a result of Khudoni hydro-power plant construction, but he and other villagers don’t want to re-locate. Teacher From Khaishi shows how villagers currently lives and it includes interviews about their reaction to the construction.

Based upon the enthusiasm and passion students have been demonstrating, I suspect that even without funding, several students will continue to shoot and edit their films. Icommend Nino Orjonikidze and Tiko Nachkebia for doing such a great job of motivating and teaching the 2nd-year students. Panel members said they were well prepared and they were surprised by the high quality of students’ work.


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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