LIFE IN LIMBO
Documentary about a country that doesn´t exist: Nagorno Karabakh
Feature-length documentary about life in a small war-torn spot located in the fuzzy border between Asia and Europe. Via a series of interlocking story lines, we're going to research one of the oldest and less-known conflicts of world history. The one that confronts Armenia and Azerbaijan over a region that, to the eyes of the world, does not exist: Nagorno Karabakh.
The thread of the story will be woven around the stories of three characters, each one of them with a specific reality and a precise problem to overcome. It’s through the lives of these characters that we will learn the singular details of this tragical and yet fascinating conflict.
STORY 1 .- The Prisioner
This story is about a Stepanakert family that desperately awaits a new prisoner exchange to take place. The family’s head and only economic support, has been recently captured at one of the many clashes that occurs almost daily at the borders. Such exchanges of prisoners and bodies take place sporadically, under the utmost secrecy, in neutral border points. They are coordinated by the International Red Cross, under the mediation of Russia. This story will take us directly into the secret underworld of political negotiations between these longtime enemies.
STORY 2 .- The russian-armenian Philanthropist
We will discover the story of a young couple that is going through divorce. From the intricacies of this separation we will unveil the unique story of the mass weddings paid for by the Russian Armenian Levon Hayrapetyan. In 2008 this peculiar millionaire devised a plan which aimed to repopulate the area with “pure Armenians” in order to ensure the defense of the territory. The plan offered 800 USD and a cow to each of the 700 couples who married that day, plus an extra $400 per child conceived. But this story not only ended badly for our divorcing couple. Levon Hayrapetyan is also going through difficult times: he has been charged with embezzlement and illegal money laundering by a Russian investigative body in an operation that many consider to be just a political revange.
STORY 3 .- The Legend Hunter
We will follow a truck driver who daily travels the road between Yerevan and Stepanakert, carrying food and medicine. This road, currently the only way to access the spot, goes through the "Lachin Corridor", name given to the 14 kilometers that, during the Soviet period, separated Armenia from Nagorno Karabakh, making this region a Christian island surrounded by Muslims. We’ll see that, when visitors are around, our character is also a tour guide. We will accompany him as he seeks stories to tell the tourists,researching the most fascinating legends that nest in the popular memory. We will accompany him following the traces of the bishop of Shusha, a war hero from early 90's who, unarmed and with open arms, faced the enemy bullets going completely unscathed.. Following this hero's path we will research into the secret role played by the Armenian Church in the resistance and the defense of the territory.
A.- 2015 was the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks and, although the subject of this documentary does not directly account these facts, we believe the film could serve to promote public interest in what many consider was the first genocide of the twentieth century.
B.- The critical situation in Ukraine has renewed the public's interest on the disputes inherited from the former Soviet Union.
C.- In recent years there has been an escalation of tension in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The negotiations of the Minsk Group seem unable to avoid a war that is presumed imminent. Still other conflicts with higher media presence plug the voice of the 130,000 inhabitants of Nagorno Karabakh.
The key purpose is to bring to light the fascinating, tragic and unknown story of this piece of land. Researching the characters' lives we are going to seek the answers to the following questions: How come this people, located in a tragic geopolitical situation which made them the obsession of the most powerful Empires of world history, have managed to survive being weaker than their enemies?
We guess this questions will bring us close to the simplest and yet most complicated answer: perhaps it was the singular character of Nagorno Karabakh inhabitants what has made them not only to survive but they have also been strengthened by adversity and managed to buid one of the oldest and richest cultures of human history. That's why our documentary is about people, it's thhrough their stories that we hope to be able to learn a little more about human behavior.
Finally, in addition to raise awareness of the current reality of the Armenians in the Caucasus, we hope this project will serve to remember and keep alive the history of Armenia.
How are we going to spend the money?
The entire amount will be dedicated to completing the first phase of the project. It's a first exploratory trip to the zone with a small team of people (3) aimed at closing cooperation agreements with local producers, defining the main characters and having a first film material that will allow us to make a trailer. At the same time we will use the footage to make a short pedagogical documentary that will be shown in schools and institutions that want to support Karabakh people.
1st. Phase costs breakdown:
We are going to self finance a portion of this costs, estimated at 4.000 € That's why our objective here in Kickstarter is to raise 11.000 €
What happens in case the 11.000 € amount is exceeded? What other things could we do?
If we raise 15,000 € We would fly in a fourth person, to be in charge of the DoP/Camera issues. We would also be able to rent an additional Canon EOS C300 and GoPro Black edition. On top of that we could be hiring professional production assistance services in Armenia.
Any amount in excess of 15,000 € will be dedicated to finance the second phase of the documentary. That will be the main shooting phase of the documentary. Will make a series of trips to Nagorno Karabakh in order to accompany the characters in a certain period of their lives. We will also visit Armenia, Russia and Switzerland, countries that for various reasons are present in the stories. A rough estimation for the second phase is around 60,000 € .
When is the project going to be completed?
As explained above, our aim here is to raise money to finance a first exploratory trip. Our objective is to make this first visit as early as July 2016.
Once we are back from our first contact, we will produce a trailer with the footage obtained there. The release for the trailer is estimated for October 2016.
We will use the trailer to pitch and raise more funds, aiming to complete the production of the documentary along 2017. Don't worry, we will keep you posted of all the development stages so you don't miss a thing!
We thank to these amaizing photographers whose pictures have helped creatig the landscape of this amaizing project:
Karabakh by Brendan Hoffman:
Risks and challenges
This is a conflict, like many others, inherited from the former USSR. We want to tell the stories of these families who daily live in a forgotten microcosm. While cease-fire was declared in 1994, there are armed clashes almost daily in the contact-line at the border and the situation in the area is a highly tense one which may make access complex. In spite of this, thanks to the contacts that are helping us from the Armenian community, both outside and within the region, we are convinced that we have all the necessary support to access the territory and perform our work in Nagorno Karabakh.
All donations collected at this platform will be fully used to develop the first phase of the project. We will film interviews with our main characters plus extra material in order to make a trailer that will help us reaching additional producers, broadcasters, distributors, etc.
This project will only see the light with the help of those who, like us, believe that this isolated community of 130,000 people has the right to make their stories known.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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