Film Festival “WON TOGETHER”: Documentary Film as a Tool of Public Diplomacy

01/11/2023 18:25

More than 300 professionals, more than 100 representatives of the foreign film and television industry will take part in Russia’s largest XVIII International Documentary Film Festival “WON TOGETHER” named after Vladimir Menshov. The film forum will take place in Sochi on November 4 - 9. Organizers are the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly and the Eurasian Academy of Television and Radio with the support of the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Administration of the city of Sochi.

Among the works sent to the festival is the work of Victoria Maksoeva, a television journalist and documentary film director from Tbilisi. She presented her short film “One Doctor in the Field,” which was filmed for the International Video Agency Ruptly. This is her second participation in the festival: last year, Victoria offered her film “Victory Won with the Mind” about a Great Patriotic War veteran from Armenia to the jury.

 This story can happen in any inaccessible place on Earth. After all, despite the development of technology and space tourism, there are still many places in the world untouched by civilization, where you will definitely find your own ascetic. It was about such a person, who devoted himself to serving people, that Georgian documentarian Victoria Maksoeva spoke in her film.

The hero of her new story is an 83-year-old doctor from the highland region of Tusheti in Georgia. He lives at the highest point in Europe, in the village of Bochorna, completely alone. For 20 years now, Irakli Khvedaguridze has been helping residents of the area fight diseases, often saving their lives.

Just 150 km from Tbilisi you can find yourself in a place almost untouched by civilization - mountainous Tusheti. From the end of October until April, it is almost impossible to get to these high-mountainous places, except by helicopter, as in the film Mimino. Irakli grew up in Tusheti, loves his region and believes that he must continue to serve people and help them cope with life’s difficulties.

The film is in Georgian, but has Russian subtitles. According to Victoria Maksoeva, the Russian language is still widely spoken in Georgia and is actively used; it is a unifying language for the region. After all, people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and even refugees from Ukraine who come to Georgia usually communicate in Russian.

“During the reign of Mikhail Saakashvili, there was persecution of the Russian language,” says Victoria. “There was a time when he even banned songs in Russian, which were always the most popular among us.”

According to Victoria, the Georgian Dream party received a mandate of trust from the Georgian population precisely because of the promise to improve relations with Russia. And the basis of a common future is a common heroic past - our memory of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. The Georgian Prime Minister lays flowers at the monuments of fallen soldiers on May 9, despite a barrage of criticism from vociferous opposition politicians. Today, the majority of the Georgian population considers it appropriate for the country to have good relations with its northern neighbor. Recently, direct flights have been restored, visa-free entry of Georgian citizens to Russia, economic and cultural ties are becoming more intense. There is a party in the country called the Conservative Movement, which clearly advocates friendship with Russia. Although, of course, there cannot yet be complete unanimity.

Victoria makes most of her films in Russian. They are translated into Georgian and Armenian - the languages of the country where these films are shown.

The Georgian diaspora in Russia today is developing cultural and economic projects with the help of public diplomacy, so that politicians quickly meet each other halfway. Victoria plans to make a film about Russian Georgians. She has already presented the first film about Georgians in Armenia from the series “Ours at theirs” and would like to shoot the next series in Russia.

“Russian documentary cinema is at a high level and there is a lot to learn from my colleagues. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I am participating in the “WON TOGETHER” film festival for the second time and I hope that my other colleagues in the workshop will also want to show their works at its site,” shared Victoria Maksoeva.