Since 2006 Conciliation Resources has been supporting a unique bridge-building project involving young Azeris and Karabakh Armenians.
Dialogue Through Film gives young people the opportunity to learn film-making skills and to work together to make short documentaries reflecting the realities of their everyday lives.
These films help us to see that young people in Azerbaijan, Nagorny Karabakh and Armenia are all facing the same kind of problems. We would never be able to make connections like that by watching television or reading our daily newspapers.
Farid Zulfugarov, who attended a film show in Gyanja, Azerbaijan
Exchanging stories from across the divide
To date, collectively the young people have made more than 30 films telling stories of life, love, laughter and loss in communities affected by the war. The films are available on DVD and on the internet in English, Russian, Azeri and Armenian.
The project is run by three local partners, Internews Armenia, Internews Azerbaijan and the Stepanakert Press Club in Nagorny Karabakh.
For the young documentary makers involved, Dialogue Through Film offers a rare chance to meet and work with people from ‘the other side’.
For many the experience has been challenging. But by attending joint training courses and watching their films together, they have been able to talk through emotions and difficult issues, and start to build professional relationships and sometimes friendships.
'When you start to talk normally to one person you start to think differently about his whole nation too.'
Since 2011 audiences across Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorny Karabakh have had a chance to watch the films at a series of monthly screenings in diverse venues – universities, local NGOs and associations and schools.
Each screening is followed by a discussion, moderated by local partner organisations, giving people the chance to share their reactions and to talk more broadly about the conflict. A handbook to accompany the Dialogue Through Film project will be out soon – a tool to make the films accessible to wide audiences across the region.
“Thanks to these films we can find out about the fears of people living on the other side of the conflict, and hear what they think about us,” says Anahit Danielyan, of the Stepankert Press Club, one of the screening moderators in Nagorny Karabakh.
Watching the films can be a very emotional experience. In the 17 years since the war ended there’s been very little contact between the opposing sides.
For the older generation the films allow them to reconnect with a lost world of once familiar places and people. For young people the films offer an alternative vision to the enemy stereotypes they’ve grown up with and for many they are a revelation.
- Watch the Dialogue Through Film movies
- Download Dialogue Through Film: A Handbook
Projects like this are helping to break down the atmosphere of enmity that exists between us, so we can talk more calmly about our problems and how to resolve them.
Anahit Danielyan, screening moderator, Nagorny Karabakh
This initiative is supported by the European Union. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.