Returning Tarzan to Sukhum

On June 16 this year, I travelled to Sukhum once again with Anton (the translator who ended being a precious assistant director), to screen Tarzan to the people from the Institute, those who are portrayed in the film. This is the ultimate test every director fears. Not surprisingly, we had trouble finding a screening room in the Abkhazian capital. Finally, we got to a small cinema that usually shows 3D films for kids.

There were 25 seats and, by the time we had set, they were all taken by the doctors, biologists, caretakers and clerks from NIIEPIT. As you may see in the photo below, mostly women, with the exception of Professor Barkaya and us. A good sociological picture of the Institute’s gender situation. In front row, sat Tania who came with her newest baby-macaque, that she raises at home. I was skeptic about his attention span, but in fact he slept throughout the 100 minutes of the film and just meowed once, so Tania gave him the child-bottle.

After the screening there were objections, obviously, but overall they said the film is fair. Rough with them, but honest. And that’s how they are. It’s a picture “without retouch”, in Prof. Barkaya’s words. Nina said that if they’ll be able to look into this mirror, maybe they will start changing things. She reminded me that – years ago, while filming – she told me how much she loathes journalists and TV people. But we did a completely different kind of job, so we’re ok… Doctor Shevtsova – the chief of the virusology lab – went to Tania – the caretaker – to congratulate her and thank her for all her work on raising baby-monkeys. I hope Tania, finally, felt like a star.

Prof Barkaya speaking to the audience
Prof. Barkaya speaking after the screening

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