GIPA Doc U 2018: What it Takes to Win

Ani Nazaryan, Sopo Apriamashvili, Tiko Zurabishvili

The seventh annual documentary film festival GIPA Doc U announced on December 1
its winners among documentary filmmakers as well as the authors of transmedia and
regional projects.

The winning documentary film, A Village of Fisherman", tells a story of a woman living
in the village of Tabatskuri. According to director Tatia Shaishmelashvili, the protagonist
is a woman named Susana, but the lifestyle and problems of Tabatskuri residents are
also shown.

“The village is isolated from the outside world. They have no roads, entertainment or
even a hospital. If a resident gets sick, they have to travel several hours to Borjomi to
get medical services,” Shaishmelashvili said. Because there is no hospital in Tabatskuri,
Susana often receives patients in her home, and even performs surgeries if necessary.
Shaishmelashvili traveled alone for 11 hours and stayed in Tabatskuri for five days to
film her documentary. “It was the first time I worked with the video camera,” she added.
Although Shaishmelashvili is more interested in investigative journalism, filming a
documentary became her new hobby: “I could never imagine filming a documentary
myself, but I enjoyed it a lot.

A Transmedia project about Batumi’s cultural heritage by Davit Msakhuradze and Ana
Makharadze took victory in its category. Both authors are from Batumi. Makharadze
said the project idea came naturally as they were witnessing their hometown losing its
cityscape. “Batumi is changing every day. It’s a very intensive process,” she said.
During the year it took to create this project, the authors often traveled to Batumi and
noticed major changes every single time.

They discovered that residents did not always realize the importance of certain cultural
heritage sites: “It was the biggest revelation of our project, because we were trying to
find a single factor to blame, but it turned out that numerous factors contribute to all
those changes,” Makharadze said.

Participants of GIPA Doc U are GIPA students in Tbilsi who created projects during their
studies. According to festival organizer Nino Orjonikidze, students pitched their projects
the previous year, and this year screened their final works to a wider audience and
professional jury.

“This festival is a platform for GIPA students to show their work in public, and potentially
send them to international contests. For instance, last year’s documentary film by Zura
Mamagulashvili was selected at Visions du Réel film festival in Switzerland,” she said.
Orjonikidze said the festival does not have any specific criteria to choose the winners:
“We have professional juries from the industry, and they decide which projects are the
most interesting. One project might be a winner, but others might have special context
or characters which are worth noting.”

Media Lab trainees pitched their multimedia story ideas as well. Eighteen Multimedia
projects were presented; two won the competition, and two more received special
mention. Approximately 70 teenagers from Armenian and Azerbaijani populated villages
in Georgia worked in groups on these projects. Every single story raised a social
problem which young and old villagers face in their daily life.

The jury consisted of journalist/filmmaker Keti Gigashvili, Sova journalist Marta
Ardashelia, and Rustavi 2 journalist Nino Vardzelashvili. “Before announcing the
winners, I would like to mention that each project has something unique and
interesting, said Gigashvili. She added that thanks to GIPA, school children have a
great opportunity to acquire important knowledge about documentaries and filmmaking.
One of the winning stories is about the pollution problem in Sadakhlo village, Marneuli
region. The short documentary shows the huge amount of garbage in Sadakhlo.
Sometimes the garbage is so close to houses that the residents cannot open their
windows and doors. “Our hearts were thumping because juries had liked our project.
When we heard the name of our project, all of us were happy. Not just us, all of our
friends were very cheerful," said Kanan Sharifov, who worked on this project with Sanan Sharifov and Eltun Sharifov. According to Sharifov, they have further plans to raise the awareness about this problem and to try to see it solved in the future.

Artyom Nalbandyan, Nazeli Khachatryan, and Shaliko Nersesyan were named winners
for their short film about the success story of a 14-year-old boy from Ghulalis village,
Ninotsminda region. He wanted to play sports, but in his village there were no
opportunities. So he decided to make training equipment by himself, using wood,
useless items, and machinery parts. The result was he and his friends participated in
many competitions where they won prizes.

Khachatryan said their GIPA Doc U victory was unbelievable. Her team is more
motivated to raise social problems in villages. “The further development of our topic is to
follow our hero’s achievements and inform an audience. Also we would like to attract
authorities’ attention to the issue that many village children are deprived of such
activities.” she said.

The two stories that won special mention are about a child who had to work for daily
bread, and a girl who went against society and made her dream come true.
According to Hranush Stepanyan, she and her partner Karen Shahbekyan wanted to
show the life of working children and the problems they face with health and being out
of the education system. “Our aim is to send a message that children deserve a better
childhood. We are going to find other working children and use the language of
documentary to speak about their problems,” she said. Stepanyan said that she
appreciates how GIPA Media Lab program builds real friendships between Armenian
and Azerbaijani teenagers.

Sema Gasanova, Gulgun Memmedkhanova and Fidan Khalilova won a prize for the film
they titled “You are a Girl, So You Can Never Make it!” Nina Ivanishvili, Dean of the
Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management (CSJMM), advised them to change the title to “You are a Girl, So You Can” because the story is about achieving a

Aishe Novruzova, 18, used to live in Marneuli city, and now is in the United States
through the “Flex” program (The Future Leaders Exchange Program). The film shows
how Novruzova battled social opinion which says a young girl should not go and live in
another country alone. Now she is living in USA and goes to school. improving her
English skills. “We want to expand our project with interviews, videos and statistics
about the girls who make it real,” said Gasanova.

Photo: GIPA Doc U FB page