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“Seaside of Sorrow”


Bela Chekurishvili, “24 hours, Review”

The film, directed by Niko Tsuladze with financial support of European Foundation “Union of Free Artists” and Georgian Cinema Centre, is called “Seaside of Sorrow”. It tells about Abkhaz people, who were evicted from the Black Sea Coast and settled in Turkey.

The story started in 1864, when Russia wanted not only to enter the Caucasus, but to rule the entire Black Sea Coast. They began to evict local tribes from Krasnodar –Jicks, Ubikhs, Abkhazians and Adjara residents. They started strict economical reforms for those who stayed in the area - they seized their properties and lands and made them write obedience notifications. There are many documents in the archive protocols signed by Russian generals and officials which describe how many people were evicted and confiscated.


The rebel happened in 1867 in Abkhazia, which of course, was subdued and as a result repressions became stronger. Russia cleaned the entire coast from local inhabitants. Ubikhs as ethnos does not exist now- they were all murdered; those who remained were resettled. The Abkhazians, who live in Turkey now, remember the words of the last Ubikh: “I saw a dream in the Ubikh language but I do not know whom I can tell…”


Lots of people died during resettlement, especially – women, who were thrown in the sea. According to the film-director, Abkhazians living in Turkey do not eat fish. They say those fish have eaten flash of their mothers… Notes of Russian officials report how evicted people died of various diseases and starvation. 

According to official information, the migration happened step by step and in total 120 000 Abkhazians left the country. Scientist Niko Mari wrote in the newspapers with sorrow: You will not recognize Abkhazia; there is nobody left there. 

Russian Empire settled Kazaks, Malaccans and Dukhabors in the empty villages, but they could not bear the local air and died of Malaria. Old documents reported that they would continue to settle new people in the area regardless the fact they die or not. The process lasted almost one century. 

Nowadays, more than 100 Georgian-Abkhazian villages are in Turkey, where families, whose predecessors became victims of Russian policy, have lived more than one century. 

Niko Tsuladze, film-director: ““This film is about century-long accusation against Russian Imperia which started genocide of Abkhaz People. This is the message for the reconciliation of Georgian and Abkhaz peoples. I think we have reached the condition when we realize that only politicians should not work on it. We are two nations living in common area and friendship of Abkhaz and Georgian people in Turkey is good example of our future relationship – they are close friends and relatives; they marry and love each other,” said the film-director Niko Tsuladze. Their villages are similar to Georgian villages with mills, Georgian neighborhood and traditions.” 

The greatest problem of these people caused by Russia is their changed name, surname, religion and posterity of those people; they managed to maintain their language and traditions unless they had kept relation with each other. Abkhaz people have still maintained their language; they still dance Abkhazian dances. We have filmed Abkhazian wedding too”. 

The film-director tried to draw parallels and show the policy of Russia which has not been changed since 1864. According to Niko Tsuladze, the film is for the Abkhazian emigrants and generally for emigrants. A lot of people in Europe have a problem of roots”. 

People can see Russian documents in the film, where there are lists of the surnames, which do not exist now. Even toponymy of the villages is changed. 

According to Niko Tsuladze, educated Abkhazians who live abroad know what Russia wants to do in Abkhazia. They understood that Russia is going to destroy them completely. The de-facto government of Abkhazia tries to get them back in Abkhazia. They want to make Abkhazian businessmen interested in the area, but they do not trust Russia. There is only one way left – Abkhazian and Georgian people should start sincere dialogue with the support of non-governmental sector, public diplomacy or manifesting. That is why the film is called “Seaside of Sorrow” to express our sincere sorrow. 

According to the film-director, Abkhaz and Georgian people should save Abkhazia together. We cannot watch from outside how Russians will settle there. The dialogue should start on every level. Abkhazians who live abroad are ready for that. Abkhazians, who live in Turkey, directly suggest their brothers not to be provoked by Russia. 

Niko Tsuladze decided to take the film to Moscow where lots of people are interested in what really happens.”I do not exaggerate the real situation in the film; I show only the documents from the archives of Royal Russia”, stated the producer. 

Niko Tsuladze was grown up in Abkhazia and knew these people very well. He stated he was in Gudauta when the conflict started in 1990. 

Niko Tsuladze: “I tried to clarify to them how I could and they trusted me; but there is one thing, we should remember in regard with Abkhaz and Ossetian people. It is successive attitude towards them. When Georgian state became independent early in the 20th century it happened in isolation from those regions and now they have this complex, that someone always oppresses them. It is true that Russia oppressed them through Georgian support and when Abkhaz people faced problems, they blamed Georgians instead communist regime. We did not think about it before. 

Everyone has his opinions, what happened later. Shevardnadze did not want armed people in the capital of the country. He carried out expedition in Samegrelo region and then sent the army to Abkhazia. This war was not problem of only Russia, but our problem; neither Georgian nor Abkhaz people analyzed the situation and had spontaneous reactions. 

Today Abkhazian Diaspora is in Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece and Netherlands. The educated people emigrated abroad, the minority, who could not leave the land stayed here and Russia oppressed them all these years. 

We focus on those people, who have seen this disaster and had time to think over. People, who have seen the real states abroad, what political and cultural privileges national minorities have abroad and most important is that they have gained mentality of civil society. When I meet these people, I see they expect you to have sincere attitude and readiness for future relations”. 

Many nations fought each other in the European history, but each nation had progressive part of society. In the 19th century, when our intelligence wrote about the oppression of Abkhazian people in newspapers, they could not stop the process. Today Abkhaz and Georgian people can try together not to turn the territory into a Russian polygon. The aim of the film is to provoke the positive feelings, which our people still have in the depth of heart. We can see how emotional the documental film is and how it can influence people during the presentation.

15 Feb. '10