In the first contest of its kind in the region, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and EU and UN agencies have teamed up to raise awareness about domestic violence in Georgia by inviting local filmmakers to submit short films on this difficult topic, which is often still taboo in Georgian society.
“Film is a powerful means for prevention,” Director of RFE/RL’s Georgian Service and coordinator of the project Natela Zambakhidze told Lady Liberty.
RFE/RL’s Georgian Service, known locally as Radio Tavisupleba, called on Georgian professional and amateur filmmakers to produce three-minute films on the issue of violence against women. A total of 77 short films were submitted for the contest, from which 17 finalists were selected by a jury of Georgian filmmakers.
Three winners were announced March 12 at a ceremony in Tbilisi. In first place was Petre Tomadze’s animated film “Night Session,” which explores how neighbors sharing a courtyard are both shaped by domestic violence and also indifferent to it. In second place, Ketevan Kapanadze’s “Lala, The Car Mechanic,” is a vignette of a young woman whose life was irrevocably changed by the violence she and her mother suffered at her father’s hands. In third place, Giorgi Kharadze’s “On The Circle,” tells the story of a woman caught for years in a cycle of her husband’s abuse before finally breaking free for good.
The winners, who will have the opportunity to produce feature length versions of their films in collaboration with Radio Tavisupleba, also received monetary prizes to support their future filmmaking endeavors. The first prize was 17,000 GEL ($6,300).
The films were watched and discussed by hundreds of thousands of people on RFE/RL platforms and across social media. The directors of the winning films were invited on Georgian national television to discuss their films and how the problem of domestic violence is treated by society.
“The project not only motivated creative individuals to work on this issue, but also spread a very strong message that violence against women is unacceptable and that gender equality should be the norm,” said Zambakhidze.
One in seven women in Georgia has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, according to a 2018 UN Women study. Many of the contest submissions cited this figure, leading “one in seven” to become a trending phrase accompanying discussions of domestic violence on Georgian social media.
“We want one in seven women to never experience violence again, we want transgender women to be accepted in society, we want to remove the gender pay gap, and we want family to be a union between equals,” said Zambakhidze.
Following the success of this inaugural contest, Zambakhidze says there are plans underway to transform it into an international film festival.
A rare source of politically and financially independent, balanced journalism in Georgia, RFE/RL’s Georgian Service considers it part of its mission to support vulnerable groups, including women, by collaborating and empowering them and offering platforms to make their voices are heard.