The sad fate of people and monkeys in Abkhazia (De verloren kolonie review)


De verloren kolonie (Netherlands, 2008)

Seen: Wednesday, 13th May 2009 (cinema, Planete Doc Review)
Runtime: 70′
Director: Astrid Bussink
Production House: Zeppers Film en TV BV, NPS Television
Plot: A documentary about the first Primate Research Centre in the world, which happens to be in Abkhazia. It has a very glorious past - it is, for example, where the vaccination for polio was invented. Its present, however, is not so glorious…

Didn’t find any video clips of this :-/

Impressions In Short
A little slow. An oddly positive atmosphere, considering the events described are rather sad and the future doesn’t look all that optimistic.

More About the Film
There’s something a little eerie about this story - it shows how a place can fall from glory into total obscurity.
At the end of the film they have a big conference with representatives from Primate Research Institutes all over the world and it’s in that scene when it finally hit me how glorious this place must have been in Soviet times. As the Americans who attended said - their institutes were modelled on the Abkhazian one, not the other way round.
The main reason the institute is no longer what it used to be are the wars that happened in the region. The limbo political state Abkhazia is in makes it practically impossible to find investors, so the chances of restoring the institute look very slim.
The war caused much damage. The buildings were under fire (some of them still have bullet marks), the monkeys were scattered all over the woods. Many believe the monkeys are still alive in the woods somewhere, even though this happened almost 20 years ago. The institute is looking for them and trying to retrieve them, but they’ve not had much luck with that. But the most striking scene for me is when one of the ladies working in the institute describes how during the Abkhazian War, soldiers would come to the institute, take monkeys, ride around with them in tanks and do “God knows what else” with them.

Definitely worth seeing if Abkhazia is a subject that interests you. Otherwise not particularly, but not something you should avoid either.

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