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.