Enhancing partnership increases audience

 IREX initiated partnership between GIPA and GARB brings GIPA student documentaries to regional audiences

The GIPA DOCU Film Festival was held at the MEC (Multimedia Education Center)

The GIPA DOCU Film Festival was held at the MEC (Multimedia Education Center)

An elderly woman, Tsabura, sits in front of her Imeretian village house chatting with a neighbor and waiting for a parcel from Athens. It’s been nine years since her daughter left for Greece to earn money for the family.  While the money has been welcome, Tsabura has paid the price in loneliness.

Tsaburas’ story is featured in “A Parcel From Athens” a documentary directed by journalism student Keti Gigashvili. It reveals how people cope with the loneliness and time without loved ones. Keti says that she held the idea of shooting the documentary about the problem for a long time.

“I grow up in an environment where migration increased year by year. I observed how, for example, my friend grew up without seeing her mother for years,” Keti says. “The topic was so familiar to me, it always worried me and after the course at GIPA (Georgian Institute of Public Administration), I had an opportunity to produce a film. I think this was the perfect medium to talk about this problem.”

Keti is the one of thirteen graduate students from the CSJMM (Caucasus School of Media & Management) who had a chance to produce documentary films with the financial or technical support from the IREX G-MEDIA program, funded by USAID.

“A Parcel From Athens” producer Keti Gigasvili with the film festival award

“A Parcel From Athens” producer Keti Gigasvili with the film festival award

The documentaries will play to a larger audience, thanks to a partnership initiated by IREX between GIPA and the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB), another G-MEDIA partner organization.  Sixteen regional Georgian TV stations are expected to broadcast the student productions.  Regional TV stations have difficulty obtaining quality programming and the documentaries will provide unique coverage of Georgian issues while enriching the schedules of the stations.

Natia Kuprashvili, the director of GARB, says the cooperation between GIPA and the stations will be very important for the regional broadcasters.  “When we conducted content research among the regional TV broadcasters we discovered they could produce approximately 3 or 4 hours with their resources.  Although, the content was not of a bad quality, it mainly contained news and documentaries, however, the documentaries were more about the historic style, rather than on a problematic issue,” says Kuprashvili. “Hence, it is very important for regional broadcasters to air this kind of product.”

Shooting the documentaries was a major challenge for the students. It marked the first time they directed a film and, in some cases, operated the cameras themselves. Keti decided to be the cameramen, as well as the producer, because she was concerned the elderly Tsabura would not be herself if there was a stranger in her home.

“I did not have to worry about renting a camera, a microphone, an editing room or other technical facilities”, says Keti. At MEC (the Multimedia Education Center, a state-of-the-art production facility developed through G-MEDIA) we were provided all equipment for shooting, and we were allowed to use them any time we needed.”

Other documentaries produced through the project include Tina Gogoladze’s film “An Ice Cream Seller” which describes the life of 22-year-old Natia, a woman who does not want to leave her rural village in the Guria region, but she finds it impossible to find a way to make a living.

“In this film, a lot of people may see their own problems,” says Tina, “and the problem is that the environment around us is not friendly whether it is a city, or a village. There are almost no opportunities for educated people to make use of their knowledge, because of the long practice of favoritism. We live in the city and do not look at the rural places, where the situation is far more dramatic.”

Documentary topics selected by the GIPA graduates cover a wide range of issues that affect the lives of people and problems that are ignored by mainstream media.

  • “A Village Koda” (Maia Gulisashvili, Beso Kunelauri) reveals mechanisms used by authorities to control and silence people who were displaced by the 2008 Georgian- Russian war.  Many still languish in the former military settlement in Koda.
  • “A Day in My Friend’s Life” (Tako Merabishvili) examines the societal challenges of people living in Georgia who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual (LGBT).
  • “A Mine” (Keti Bigvava, Tea Gamezardashvili) takes viewers underground to explore the severe working conditions of miners in Chiatura.
  • “Beyond the Façade” (Mariam Jachvadze, Tamar Mshvenieradze) goes beyond the facades of a newly restored historical district of Tbilisi to examine the reality of people who live behind the fresh veneer.
  • The stunning landscape of the Svaneti region is the setting for “A Teacher from Khaishi” (Lika Moshiashvili, Nino Gelashvili) which tells the story of a passionate teacher, Zura Nizharadze, who is trying to save his village from   a planned hydropower project that will flood the valley.
  • “My Name is Beka” (Tako Svanidze, Mano Kuchukhidze) provides an insightful and compelling look at the difficulties of a family struggling to help 10-year-old Beka, diagnosed with autism.

CSJMM lecturer, Nino Orjonikidze, who taught the documentary production class together with Tiko Nachkebia, considered the films to be so good they deserved a public screening.

GIPA lecturer Nino Orjonikidze talks with the students

GIPA lecturer Nino Orjonikidze talks with the students

“We got 8 documentary film projects, which we considered to be very interesting. They exposed a diversity of topics and good quality,” says Orjonikidze, “Hence, we decided to make a public screening and with the great support from IREX and CSJMM we held the film festival”.

Although the students have a journalistic background, Orjonikidze says that telling stories through a documentary format was a big challenge for them and, she says, that turned out to be the greatest success of the project.

“To my astonishment they transferred their journalistic abilities into documentary creation in a very interesting way,” Nino says. “They observed and went deeper on the topics than journalists commonly do.”

A guest looks through the GIPA DOCU Film Festival program

A guest looks through the GIPA DOCU Film Festival program

Photographs by http://newscafe.ge

Also see the PDF version G-MEDIA Update, January

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სპექტრი-რასაც სხვები ვერ ამბობენ

Multimedia Education Center

Supporting Journalism Education in Georgia

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