Monday, 9 May 2016

Documentary about hydro power plants in Georgia - Our second visit

This time our trip to Georgia was meant to be pretty similar to the last one. Me (editor Anna Gavronski), director Märten Vaher and camera operator Meelis Kadastik were planning to revisit the locations we filmed on our previous visit to Georgia. Because our trip was scheduled to take place in spring, we were hoping to film the high level of water in the rivers. So our main purpose for the second trip was to show the difference in nature and film additional shots for our B-roll.

We arrived in Tbilisi on 30th of March. On our first day we stayed in Tbilisi to interview an official from European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). We went to their office and met the press person, only to find out that the interviewee had unexpectedly left to Armenia. Unfortunately, we did not have an option to reschedule the interview. Therefore, we spent half of day filming different energy related objects in Tbilisi. In the afternoon, we started heading to mountainous Svaneti area.

On our second day we arrived in the area of Enguri dam. As this year the spring in Georgia was very late, the high waters had not started yet. Instead, the water was extremely low in the Enguri dam. Our guide Dato Chipashvili from an NGO called Green Alternative explained, how he had not seen such a low water level in Enguri before. 

Our director Märten Vaher was very happy, because we managed to record completely different looking Enguri dam compared to the last visit.

We continued our journey to Nakra village, which in the close proximity to planned Nenskra hydro power plant. We met with the local villagers, who spoke about the latest changes and developments in Nenskra project. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has agreed to provide US$200 million for Georgia's 280-MW Nenskra hydropower plant. However, the local population continues to be upset about the project, because they are afraid that new hydro power plant will cause landslides and they are afraid that their homes will be flushed away by mud rivers.

For the evening we went to Mestia, which is a beautiful little town between mountains. It was the first time in Georgia, when we saw snowy mountains. We were stunned by the beauty of Georgian nature.

On our third day we went to Chuberi village near Nenskra river, where Dato Chipashvili from Green Alternative met with local people. He was expecting to talk with three or four people, but instead about 70 villagers turned out. This kind of high interest shows that for local people the construction of hydro power plants matter a lot. On one hand, they probably hope that this kind big development will create them new jobs; on the other hand, definitely large hydro power plants have impact on local ecological system. It was weird to see that compared to our last visit, there was only a small bumpy road that took us to the village, but half a year later a newly built super motorway took us to the village. The new road was built because of the planned hydro power plant.
We spent the afternoon in Khaishi, were spoke with the local teacher. He said that there has not been much communication from the builders or the government side. In the evening we drove back to Mestia.

Our fourth day, we started driving back to Tbilisi. We spent the day mostly driving - the distance between Mestia and Tbilisi is 460 kilometres. However, time-to-time we stopped to film some picturesque views. 

On our way, we read from news that war broke out in the nearby in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. As our plans for the last day of trip were quite relaxed, we decided to head towards the conflict area to make a story about the situation there.

On our last day, we headed to Armenia, because Estonians have visa freedom with Armenia and not with Azerbaijan. Hence, our only option to cover the conflict was from Armenian side.
Firstly, we headed to the capital Yerevan, wherewe made a couple of interviews and vox populi. On our way back, we went through the villages on Armenia-Azerbaijan border. This is an area, where in the recent future has been a number of ceasefire violations, but it was relatively calm during the period we were there. In the evening we arrived again in Tbilisi and took the flight back to Estonia.

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