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Before Father Gets Back

DirectorMari Gulbiani
ProducerTekla Machavariani – Nushi Film, LuFilms, TV78, Filmpunkt
CameraMari Gulbiani, Nik Voigt, Toto Kotetishvili
EditorNina Graafland
SoundMatthias Weber
MusicLevan Mizandari
ScreeningThursday 7 November | 21:45 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag
Saturday 9 November | 17:15 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag
Length75 min
SectionDocumentaries Open Debates

A compelling story of two lovely teenage girls from a small Georgian village where many fathers went abroad and joined ISIS. Their dream of going to school, having fun by making amateur movies, and having normal life as before, begins to fall apart when the fathers come back. Screenings will be followed by Q&A with the director Mari Gulbiani. Dutch Premiere


Iman and Eva live in Pankisi, a small, remote region in Georgia, traditionally inhabited by moderate Muslims. Most of them originate from neighbouring Chechnya. Against the will of the older generation, a growing number of young Pankisians have converted to Wahhabism, a conservative and strict form of Islam. As a result of their radicalization, many young men joined the war in Syria, leaving their families behind. Most of village people are living in a constant fear of their relatives sacrificing their lives in the name of God. What will happen when the ones who survived the war  return home? Talented director Mari Gulbiani achieved remarkable closeness with her characters and made relevant, moving film that makes us think about the world we live in.

Festivals & Awards (selection)

Sheffield Doc/Fest, 2018 – World Premiere | Sarajevo Film Festival, 2018 | Cinemed, Montpellier 2018 | Trieste Film Festival, 2019 | Docudays UA, International Documentary Human Rights Film Festival, 2019 – Special Award from Festival Partner Current Time.tv | Festival de cine Al Este, Peru 2019 – Best Documentary | CineDOC Tbilisi, 2019 – Georgian Public Broadcaster Award | DOK.fest München, 2019

Director’s statement

I went to the Pankisi Gorge two years ago, believing films can transform reality. While teaching cinema in Pankisi’s schools, I understood there was an important, yet untold, story: the lives of the daughters, wives and mothers of men turned jihadists and who left their villages. To tell the story I will use mosaic storytelling, where small stories and details will create whole film. I made a decision to give the camera Iman and Eva, so they could have their voice in this film. Cinema is the tool, which helps them to understand their lives and express themselves.

Director’s bio

Mari Gulbiani is a Georgian film director and screenwriter. After finishing her education in Philology at the Tbilisi State University, she studied film directing at the Theatre and Film State University. She then fine-tuned her experience at the Parisian film school Ateliers Varan to become a fully-fledged documentary film director. She has worked in the culture department of the main Georgian public TV station (TV1) in the years 1997-1999 and in the program department of TV9 in 1999-2003. She founded the producing company Midifilm in 2007. From 2013, she worked for the Noosfera Foundation in the context of the Documentary Monday project and in the program department of the documentary film festival CineDoc Tbilisi. She also coordinated the CineDoc Young and the EFA Young Audience Award in Tbilisi. Participant of the workshop Dok incubator 2017.

Filmography: Green Apples, 2004, short feature | Khorumi, 2006, short feature | Hey, Kesane, Kesane / City of Blind, 2006, short doc | Trilogy „The Door“, „The window“, „The music in the window“, 2008, short feature | Green Yarn, 2011-2012, documentary film series| High Above the clouds, 2011, documentary | I am at home, you are on the way, 2013, feature fiction film, in development | The Shelter, 2013, full length documentary, in development