When a filmmaker follows stray dogs of Tbilisi during the pandemic, it captures the precarious cohabitation of humans and animals, finding moments of desperation as well as hope.
More than 50,000 dogs live on the streets of Tbilisi. Almost all cafes, restaurants, and markets have their own street dog. Since the pandemic started, the dogs have been practically abandoned and hungry. This video documents relationships between residents of Tbilisi and their four-legged friends and found that attitudes about stray dogs were quite diverse. Filmmaker Elena Mikaberidze believes that street dogs are a key trait of Georgia and tell us a lot about how society functions. The video essay ultimately revealed moments of human kindness and solidarity in Tbilisi and the communities that coexist with street dogs.
With this video essay, I sought to portray the city of Tbilisi through the eyes and ears of the stray dogs that roam its streets. I started to observe stray dogs day and night. Through the lives of these dogs, a portrait of the city and its residents emerges. The film shows how Tbilisi used to be alive and how it has changed forever. Through my friend Shalva, I learned how difficult it is to follow the stay-at-home rule when the street is your home. How challenging it is to protect yourself and others when there is nobody to protect you.
Shalva always says that his dogs protect him day and night. His experience gave me new hope that a peaceful cohabitation between humans and animals is possible. The city is for everybody and we should share it.
“What would you take in your bag when you cross the border?” Can such a plain question cause a person to question his or her identity and the human condition? This film features the stories of people who crossed a border once, twice or more. Some cross a border every day; some will not cross one ever again or only in their dreams.The people tell what they took or still take in their bags and why. Some items are ordinary, others look odd to a stranger’s eyes. But everything in their bags of memories touches the heart.
Bags and Borders
When I first returned to Tbilisi from Belgium after an absence of 23 years, I was looking for what defined the city that I had left when I was five. I found it in an unexpected object – the chairs scattered throughout its streets. At first, I thought they were junk or had been forgotten. But then I realized that each chair has a story; each makes up part of the social landscape of today’s Georgia.