Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s the ex-soviet countries have continued to face tremendous challenges in all aspects of life - social, political, economic and cultural. In the Caucasus, where large numbers of ethnic groups have co-existed for centuries, the collapse of a centralized system inevitably paved the way for the expression of multitudes of religious, ethnic and cultural identities. The relationships of the countries in the Caucasus and neighboring regions have evolved into a complex reality, where ethnic, religious and cultural identities have polarized groups.
In the area of filmmaking, these new realities and redefinitions have posed many challenges to producers, directors and script writers. How is the filmmaker, uniquely poised to address these issues through her or his lens, to reconcile and move forward into the 21st century? Should the filmmaker hide behind his or her individual border or look across the border and the world? Is she or he to see only those elements that sets her or him apart from the ‘others’, or address the common humanity that once made it possible for population groups and states to co-exist?
DIRECTORS ACROSS BORDERS (DAB) was established to find the answers on these questions and to promote the idea that film and its makers are in a unique position to explore and penetrate the borders, to understand the neighbor—in the largest sense of the term. As a co-production forum, it launched within the framework of GOLDEN APRICOT Yerevan International Film Festival. Initially it was a regional network of film directors and film professionals living in Caucasus and in the neighboring countries: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and etc. - who agreed that cinema is one of the unique tools that could transform human relations without the need for recognizing political, ideological, racial or religious borders. DAB firstly was just a forum of independent filmmakers to determine the common problems typical for states in transition. By emphasizing multinational and multicultural approaches DAB hoped to contribute to establishment of a new ‘common space’ - which would expand from the former Soviet borders and respect the differences of those who have lived together for ages.
The general DAB concept emerged from an idea originally developed by a great Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The aim of DAB is to determine the common problems typical for the states in transition, to facilitate film co-production projects addressing the issues of multinationalism and multiculturalism.
The Regional Seminar on Cinema as Means of Cross-Cultural Dialogue held within the framework of the 2nd GOLDEN APRICOT Yerevan International Film Festival in July (July 12 - 17, 2005) proved to be an important moment of the Festival and met the expectations of both the organizers and more than 50 participants from 12 countries. One important suggestion that emerged from the discussions first made by Siddiq Barmaq and welcomed by others, was the establishment of a network of filmmakers of Caucasus and neighboring countries - under the auspices of the GOLDEN APRICOT IFF. Seminar participants agreed that cinema is uniquely poised to familiarize cultures with each other, in fact, to create endless possibilities to regenerate life and enrich each other. It can do so by bringing us closer, through the lens of the camera, to places, communities and to people that we probably would not have known about otherwise. The Festival committee decided to take the next step and formalize the network under the heading of DIRECTORS ACROSS BORDERS.
Both the project and the principles of this initiative were presented to the Forth Session of the European Cultural Parliament, which took place in Lisbon, December 2-4, 2005. The main theme of the Session was "How can European Culture promote European coexistence?". Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission was also present at the Session. Taking into account the regional importance of the Project, the European Cultural Parliament decided to take the patronage of the Project, which was affirmed in ECP Lisbon Declaration.
In January 2007, the “sisterhood declaration” was signed between the Rotterdam IFF (Netherlands), Pusan IFF (South Korea) and GOLDEN APRICOT IFF (Armenia) where DAB was confirmed the main platform for regional co-operation joining the Caucasian region with Europe and Asia. DAB also became a partner in the Council of Europe's “Cross Border Cinema Culture” (CBCC) project implemented within the framework of the Kyev Initiative.
November, 2011, the project received a grant from the European Community
represented by the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia within the Eastern
Partnership Culture Program to develop a broader scope and realize its
different components in 2011-2014.