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Artists and Orphans: a True Drama

Audience Choice
Award for Best Documentary Santa
Barbara
International Film Festival, March 2001




In a country torn by civil war, by economic collapse, by political upheaval, the
unseen victim is the child. Children suffer for long years after the immediate
crisis passes. This is what a director/actress and her troupe of American artists
discover when they travel to the Republic of Georgia (former USSR) for a theater
festival. They learn that poverty is forcing parents to leave their children at
orphanages because they cannot afford to feed them. Vowing to help, the artists
walk off the stage and into a real-life drama.



They visit a state-run orphanage where babies languish due to corruption and bureaucracy.
Laws prohibiting foreign adoption rob these innocents of their chance for a more
secure life abroad. In dismaying interviews with President Eduard Shevardnadze
and the First Lady of Georgia, the artists are told that Georgia has no orphans.




Then, the artists meet Mother Mariam and George Razmadze, a young Georgian nun
and a schoolteacher who have taken 116 abandoned and orphaned children off the
streets. With no government funding, the children and their caretakers make their
home in the bombed-out remains of a mental hospital. They face the looming Georgian
winter with no heat, no water, rare electricity, meager food, threadbare clothing
and a relentless infestation of lice. The artists are shocked by what they see
and promise they will help.



The Americans return to New York, raise money and collect four thousand pounds
of clothing. In a matter of weeks, they send two emissaries back to Georgia. Their
goal is to give the children everything they need to survive the winter. Driven
by powerful, personal motivations, the two men fight impossible odds, as they
race to provide everything the children are lacking - and more - in just five
days.

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