They are shooting a movie in Pankisi By: Aishat Pareulidze

A few weeks ago, Georgians shot a film in Pankisi, and as a Roddy Scott Foundation journalist, I had the opportunity to meet and interview the film’s director and screenwriter, Mari Gulbiani.

Aishat Pareulidze: “First and foremost, thank you very much for your time. My first question is, what encouraged your decision to make a film in Pankisi?”

Mari Gulbiani: “I initially visited Pankisi in 2015, and I was a movie instructor for students from every valley in Pankisi. I taught the student for three years, during which time the pupils watched movies and discussed them. I also brought a documentary film about how a film may help youngsters see things from a different perspective and open up a new world for them. During this time, I began writing a script for the second film. I asked the suggestions of locals in order for the picture to be as realistic as possible.”

Aishat Pareulidze: “What is the name of the film and what is the content about?’’

Mari Gulbiani: “So, the title of the film is currently Cross-Road,” but I think it could be changed after the film Montage, however this requires careful consideration. The film is about a young girl who gets married. She has a young mother-in-law who has just a son, but a few days after the wedding, her husband mysteriously disappears. And the basic story of the film is about the relationship of the daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, who left Pankisi together to find the husband after a period of time. They get to know each other better during the trip. The major focus of the film is on strong women and women’s history, but in the background, we can observe villagers from Pankisi going about their daily lives, such as weddings and burials, as well as youths and toddlers walking down the street.”

Aishat Pareulidze: “Were the actors invited or were they locals? If they were locals, what do you think about them?’’

Mari Gulbiani: “A local performed the part of the mother-in-law, while a professional actress played the role of the daughter-in-law. The other characters in the film are locals. I picked locals because no one else could create as expressive facial expressions as the locals. I know many individuals from Pankisi, which is an important area of Georgia. Pankisi residents should be actively represented in all administrative settings.”

Aishat Pareulidze: ”How did the people of Pankisi react to the fact that you were filming in Pankisi?”

Mari Gulbiani: “Nobody had any issues. I know a lot of people here, and they were all really helpful. The majority of them wanted to be in the film. I composed the screenplay in Georgian, and the locals helped me in translating it into Kist. The film is in the Kist language.  And I’d want to tell you that the picture will not be completed in 2024. instead, we’re waiting for funding in the spring of 2024. However, I will install this section of the film. The cameraman was Goga Devdariani, a well-known Georgian film cameraman, the artist and costume designer Anuka Kalandarishvili, and the producer Keti Kalandarishvili.  I truly adore the people of Pankisi, and no one had done a film on their traditions and so on before, so I wanted other people to know about them and love them as much as I do.”