A Look Beyond the Headlines (2016)

Online video | 5.18. min.

Movie Info

  • Release Date: 15 Jul, 2024
  • Country Georgia
  • Author Tako Robakidze
  • Published by vimeo
  • Submitting institution Individual


Competition status – winner

During the last decade, a lot of controversial stories have emerged regarding the Pankisi Gorge region (a gorge in the northeastern part of Republic of Georgia, at the foothills of the Great Caucasus mountains and bordering the Republic of Chechnya). Since the early 1990s, the area has been perceived as a hub for the preparation of extremist groups. These perceptions stem from the fact that Muslims populate the area. News reports mostly speak of radical Islam, weapons dealing and underage boys being sent off to fight in Syria. From my very first day of the visit, my primary goal was to document the dynamics of everyday life in Pankisi Gorge. Two things struck me as I walked through the village streets. First, I was surprised by the deep spirituality of Pankisi’s residents, not in a strictly religious sense, but how connected they are to nature and their deeply rooted community traditions. Paradoxically, I felt as if I had found the real Georgian soul being kept alive here, in this place, isolated from the rest of the country and the Georgians living around it. Second, I realized how dramatic the influence of mass media can be on collective thinking. Pankisi residents are ordinary people, although they suffer from stereotypes resulting from individual incidents in the region. The insufficient media coverage of the region honestly hurts Pankisi’s population and creates negative perceptions in Georgian society.
The people of Pankisi, their philosophy of life, their traditions and customs are uniquely peaceful, full of love and tolerance. My project aims to make the Georgian and international audiences look beyond the headlines, think about the individuals behind the stereotypes and diminish the myth that they pose a danger. Pankisi Gorge has become a symbol of the paradox of a modern worldview: obsessed with the images we construct in our heads, we fail to see the extraordinary reality of ordinary people in our midst.

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