Connected, From Behind the Doors
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On the surface Bediani is a Georgian village like any other - a collection of small houses sitting about 90 kilometres south-east of Tbilisi and hosting its 200-odd inhabitants. Yet, the people living on the bank of the Khrami river are scores more - invisible residents are confined behind the high walls of an imposing and severe Soviet edifice. It is the village’s mental hospital, the third largest in the country.

The psycho-neurological facility opened in 1963 with the capacity to provide assistance to 800 patients, but today the number has dwindled to about 150 people from all over Georgia. Mental illness continues to be a significant source of stigma, and the patients subsequently live hidden, concealed from the glances of the passers by.

Avtandil Vanadze, current director at the Bediani clinic, states that an estimated 50,000 people in Georgia struggle with mental health, about 1,400 receive regular treatment, either in one of the six medical facilities in the country or through mobile teams and day centers. Only the capital Tbilisi has a 24/7 centre.

In Bediani, advancements in technology have not taken root to reduce the isolation of people in the facility, not least because of lacking financial resources, but dwellers have developed their own ways of appropriating tools and forms of communication.

This film sheds a light on the everyday communication inside the closed institution - how it has been redefined and reinvented. Although it takes many forms, the bottom of it all lies in their dream - to return home.

Chai Khana
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