“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.

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Students create first CSJMM TV news program!

As part of a TV Reporting course taught by Nino Orjonikidze and Nino Japiashvili, CSJMM students produced a professional quality 29-minute TV news program. Please watch the first part of the  program and then congratulate the Class of 2012 and their instructors. Then continue reading this post.

Goal 4 of the “Journalism School Partnership Program,” for which I’m the principal investigator, is to “improve experiential learning opportunities.” The three specific objectives are:

1. Develop “capstone experiences.”

2. Improve student-run media.

3. Improve the internship program.

In the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC), at the University of South Carolina, a “capstone experience” is a semester-long period when students work intensively to produce a professional quality product. SJMC journalism students either work 40 hours+ a week to produce a 30-minute TV news program five days a week (Monday through Friday) or they work 40 hours+ a week to produce either a printed or online newspaper.

CSJMM students just completed a smaller-scale version of a “capstone experience.” I take NO credit for implementing this capstone experience, but I believe students gained a lot and had fun, so I hope future students will have a similar opportunity.

What would truly be exciting would be for students at the SJMC and students at CSJMM to jointly produce a multimedia news program. Imagine if the news program had a theme—such as health care. Students from both schools would report and edit health care stories. Then an international team of student managers would coordinate the international program. US students would better understand the US healthcare system by learning about the system in Georgia and vice versa. Of course, such a project would be challenging, but the rewards would make the effort worthwhile.

Passion and inspiration

Nino Orjonikidze pitching her film at the East Doc Platform in Prague.

Nino Orjonikidze is a documentary filmmaker. She’s also an instructor at the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management. Last weekend she and her co-director, Vano Arsenishvili, were in Prague pitching their latest film, English Teacher. Today she was in Tbilisi teaching TV Reporting. The two jobs complement each other well.

At the East Doc Platform, Nino and Vano were able to meet one-on-one with commissioning editors and potential buyers of their film. In fact they had meetings with representatives from seven companies, including POV (United States), Yle (Finland), Danish Public Broadcasting (Denmark), and DOK Leipzig (Germany). All seven companies expressed interest in the “rough cut” of English Teacher, but they want to see the “final cut.” Nino and Vano are participating in a Georgia National Film Center, and if all goes well, they will gain funding and use the money to finish their film. Then, after two months of post-production work, they’ll submit the final cut. Please click this link to see a trailer: http://www.artefact.ge/current

I asked Nino how her participation in the Institute of Documentary Film event benefits CSJMM students. She said that when she teaches documentary film later in March, she will give students the same experience she had in Prague. She’ll require students to pitch their film idea, with some visuals, to a panel of industry representatives. This panel will then select the one or two best projects, and IREX and GIPA will finance these student’s documentary films. Nino added that the most important thing she can share with students is her passion for documentary filmmaking.

Then I asked Nino how teaching students benefits her work as a documentary filmmaker. She said that her students inspire her because they help her see things differently. Students are exploring, they are searching for new ideas, developing their own vision, and their own voice. Sometimes their ideas are crazy, or at least not very realistic, Nino said, but their ideas are fresh and interesting. Moreover, some of the students are very talented even though they’ve only been studying video for a few weeks.

The mingling of talent, energy and new ideas among the students and instructors fuels the passion and inspiration in everyone.

CSJMM hires 3 Ninos and a Tiko

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

Susanna and I hosted a potluck dinner for all of the administrators, staff, and faculty at the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management, including the four women we were about to hire. Shortly before midnight, after having enjoyed a few . . . beverages . . . Nino, Nino, Nino, and Tiko signed their contracts and officially became faculty members of CSJMM. The three Ninos have the family names of Japiashvili, Orjonikidze, and Makhviladze. The Tiko is Tiko Nachkebia, formerly the coordinator of the public relations MA program at CSJMM. I am extremely pleased that CSJMM was able to hire such talented, energetic individuals for its journalism MA program.

Nino Orjonikidze (L) and Nino Japiashvili (R)