To promote peace, conflict resolution and reconciliation, the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) hosted a public screening of the documentary film "My Links to Abkhazia" on Friday 8 September. The film, directed by Zviad Mchedlishvili – a journalist of The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) – tells a story of a post-conflict generation that inherited a fragile peace following the 1992-1993 war in Abkhazia. The film was screened in the Knowledge Café in Tsnori as part of EUMM’s outreach efforts to encourage regional audiences to participate in the ongoing 2023 edition of the EUMM Special Prize for Peace Journalism.
Part of Identity
My Links to Abkhazia is about Georgian youth who reflect on the conflict they have not experienced themselves as they were born after the 1992-1993 war or were too young to remember it. However, as Georgians, they are confronted with its aftermaths and sometimes even held accountable for the damage the conflict has inflicted on both Abkhaz and Georgian communities. Yet, the film does not revolve around conflict analysis or politics but focuses on ordinary life of Georgians instead.
,,Focusing on the daily routine of young people, I tried to delve deeper into their thoughts and feelings. In their emotions, I sometimes heard an echo of the negative collective memory passed on them by older generations,” said the film director, Zviad Mchedlishvili. According to him, the film protagonists have never visited Abkhazia and have not had family ties there. “Yet they sincerely respect the Abkhaz culture, traditions and language as something native, close to them and even mesmerizing. The filming revealed to me that for the film protagonists, Abkhazia is not just a breakaway region, but a part of their own identity,” Zviad Mchedlishvili added.
,,Working 10 years on peacebuilding projects, the most remarkable achievement for me is an almost tangible change in moods and attitudes of a part of the new generation from both sides of the dividing line [Administrative Boundary Line between Abkhazia and Tbilisi-Administered Territory]. These young people are not yet decision-makers, but their toned-down sentiments – which we were trying to capture in our film – are promising for the future,” said the film producer, Irakli Chikhladze.
The film screening was followed by an open discussion during which the participants had the opportunity to engage with local journalists, activists, the films director and producer, as well as with the IWPR representative. “The film and discussion allowed our audience to better understand our recent history. It also helped them to shape opinions and think about their own identity. We are happy to host such events in our social enterprise, as sharing experience and engaging youth intellectually are our priorities,” said Nana Bagalishvili, the founder of the Knowledge Café in Tsnori.
The documentary film My links to Abkhazia is the product of joint initiative of EUMM and Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). For several years now, within the scope of the EUMM Special Prize for Peace Journalism project a series of documentaries has been produced. The documentaries are dedicated to Georgia’s unresolved conflicts, aiming to understand the conflict roots and to help reconcile the communities.
EUMM Special Prize for Peace Journalism
The EUMM Special Prize for Peace Journalism is one of eight categories of the EU Prize for Journalism in Georgia, organised by the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia. Introduced in 2013, this is the eleventh consecutive year of the award. The prize rewards ethical, independent and conflict-sensitive journalism that contributes to confidence-building and peace among divided communities in Georgia. The EUMM-sponsored prize is organised in close partnership with IWPR.
The Prize competition is now open for entries, the deadline for submitting is 1 November 2023.