Two weeks ago I managed to see the latest production by Studio Re regarding the 2008 August War in Georgia, appropriately titled “The Verdict of the August War.” The film has been available in Georgian for a few months already, but has recently been translated into English. For those who are not familiar with Studio Re, this is an independent film studio operating out of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, which has distinguished itself over the last couple of years by producing a range of balanced and thought provoking documentaries about the conflicts between Georgia and its breakaway republics Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Since I have been highly impressed by previous productions by Studio Re, in particular “Absence of Will” from 2008, I was somewhat disappointed by their latest production. First off, the film starts with a 15 minute rehearsal of what can be considered the official Georgian position on the August War and the Georgian-Abkhazian/South Ossetian conflicts. This is neither particularly interesting to someone who already has some basic knowledge of these conflicts, nor very useful from a conflict resolution perspective in my opinion.
The other side including South Ossetian and Abkhazian spokespersons and commentators, as well as non-mainstream Georgian and international experts are also given a voice, which is good, but again there is not much that is really new. Unlike previous films about these topics there is little effort to dig up new material, question recurring myths and assumptions, or even present the material in an engaging and provocative way.
Still, there are some important lessons which one can take away from this film, in particular the extent to which the policies of Georgia and the so-called international community (primarily the West) towards the breakaway republics have failed, and how urgent it is to restart efforts towards direct social, political and economic contacts between the involved parties. The film in its entirety can be watched here.