Grozny Dreaming

2008
documentary, 95 min.

Director Statement
Note of intent by the authors A chamber orchestra of musicians from all the Caucasian republics and a German conductor initiated this bold project whose aim is to show that it is indeed possible to live and work together, side by side, even among people from different religions, cultures and ethnic origins. In 2007, the orchestra, which was created a few years back in Tiflis (Georgia), will set out on an ambitious project: a peace tour through the Caucasus. At the conclusion, the musicians would like to cap this experience with a dream: a concert in Grozny. This documentary will show the genesis of this project and backstage events, as well as the joys and pains of a musical project whose notes will resound in the mountains of the Caucasus, for centuries the theatre of wars, massacres and interethnic tensions. A chamber orchestra is usually composed of 16 to 19 musicians. The Caucasus Chamber Orchestra plays with 16 regular members and three empty seats. These seats are reserved for the musicians from Azerbaijan. As the group includes Armenians – considered their historical enemies – no musician from Azerbaijan has up until now agreed to become part of the orchestra. The objective of the musical project is to bring a message of peace to the Caucasus region by demonstrating that it is possible, as the orchestra shows, to live together and even make a utopia come true, providing that conflicts and tensions are overcome. The documentary proposes to take advantage of this courageous Trans-Caucasian tour through all the republics situated on either side of a mountain range between Asia and Europe, by presenting a portrait of some members of this chamber orchestra. This unique group brings together approximately 40 languages and dialects, not to mention a wide range of cultures, stories, biographies, etc. After an initial interview with the conductor, we have obtained his support for the documentary and, during the summer of 2006, our plan is to proceed to the first location reconnoitring and character selection. The film will propose to the viewers a musical and intimate journey through the Caucasus as seen from within the group: a diary which will record practical and logistic difficulties, as well as moments of discouragement and of success during their tour in one of the world’s most tension ridden regions. How will the group travel on the bus from one republic to the next? How will they be received at the various stages? How will interpersonal relationships in the group be managed? During the journey, the camera will focus on a few key personalities who will be selected in advance. In the summer of 2006, the author and the director, having already obtained the agreement of the conductor, spent one week with the group in order to find and screen the characters around which the narration will be based. During the actual production stage, scheduled for 2007, these people will be filmed not only during concerts, but also at various times in their homes with their families in their own homelands (Dagestan Georgia, Armenia, Chechnya, etc. ). The narration will also focus on the characters’ relationship with their musical instrument (violin, double bass, viola, etc.) Given the quality and type of music played by the group, much effort will be devoted to the quality of the sound recordings which will make up the sound track of the documentary. The main character of the documentary will be the conductor Uwe Berkemer who is both the conceiver and the driving force behind this initiative. The story of Maestro Berkemer’s life and his arrival in Georgia, where he married one of the group’s musicians, will form an important part of this film. The narration will be centred on the ending and on the central question related in the documentary: will the Chamber Orchestra of the Caucasus succeed in holding its final concert in Grozny at the end of its “peace tour”? We will find this out at the end of the filming.