Czech film wins FAO award

The short movie shows rural development in Georgia

Encompassed by the Caucasus mountains with heights of 5,000 meters – offering breathtaking views and, at the same time, damming them – lies Georgia’s Tusheti region. Its inhabitants are strongly attached to this remote area, but the natural beauty alone is not sufficient for a healthy life.

The short movie The Land of Stone Towers, by Kateřina Mikulcová, shows this protected landscape area and how it has been supported by the Czech Development Agency. After careful consideration, the film received the FAO Osiris Prize at the 34th Agrofilm International Film Festival in Slovakia.

Organized by the National Agricultural and Food Centre under the patronage of FAO, the film festival puts agriculture, food and related topics in the spotlight.

In The Land of Stone Towers, we see flocks of sheep starting their 300-kilometer journey to their winter pastures in Azerbaijan. We see old sanctuaries, stone fortresses and, most importantly, people, talking about their everyday hardships. The support from the Czech Development Agency wasn’t intended to change these scenes dramatically, but rather to add more opportunities and comfort to it.

To this end, the agency equipped 200 households with solar panels to provide them with clean energy sources to replace the petrol power generators they had been using. Power is badly needed by livestock keepers to fleece sheep and process wool.

The film also shows other efforts to improve life in rural Georgia.

Hiking trails were marked using local toponyms, or place names – not only to “keep the local culture alive” but also to create possible economic opportunities through tourism, in an approach similar to that used in an FAO project in Georgia. Not only have the routes become clearer, but some archeological sites – the stone towers and castles that gave the film its name – were restored by Czech volunteers.

All of these are important elements to help the people stay here, cultivating the land and managing their livestock, and to help keep rural areas alive. More than 80 movies from all around the globe were featured during the Agrofilm festival in several cities across Slovakia, including the capital, Bratislava.

Screenings were accompanied by several side events, including a farmer’s market and public discussions.

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