On May 14, the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) organized an online discussion around the movie “Imperium”, which deals with the issue of radical right and depicts the story of a specific radical right movement.
The movie “imperium” is about a radical white supremacy terrorist group who is known for their violent actions and hate speech against immigrants, ethnic, religious, and sexual minority groups. They are against globalization and believe that “diversity” is a code word meaning “white genocide”. Idealistic FBI agent Nate Foster goes undercover to take down this radical white supremacy organization. The up-and-coming analyst must confront the challenge of sticking to a new identity while maintaining his real principles as he navigates the dangerous underworld of white supremacy. In general, the movie “Imperium” explores how far a far-right radicalism and nationalism can go, what consequences racial hatred can have, and how long their impact remains? Focusing on the stories of the people involved in the white supremacy terrorist group, it also shows what the grass-root causes of liberalism could be.
Ms. Theo Khatiashvili, a film critic, was a key-note speaker and the moderator of the discussion. At the beginning of the online event, she made an introductory overview of the movie and drew some parallels between “Imperium” and other movies, which also show far-right movements based on racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. She pointed out to the participants that even though the issue of racism is not new to cinema, lately it has become a central issue for a lot of movies, including those made in Hollywood. According to Theo Khatiashvili, the majority of film critics tend to relate this development to electing Donald Trump as the US president. But the USA is not an exception. Nationalist-fascist or racist discourse and the groups that pursue this discourse are rising in European countries as well. Moreover, these groups are not only some marginal ones, but also are also represented as political parties, which participate in elections and frequently get close to winning them. Theo Khatiashvili also mentioned that the author of the book the movie “Imperium” is based on, points out in one of his interviews that the actions of racist movements are primarily directed against governments. At the end of her speech, Theo Khatiashvili posed some questions to the audience and encouraged them to express their opinions about what drives far-right nationalism, what feeds this process, and whether this can be considered as a failure of liberalism?
Discussion participants drew parallels between the movie and the actions of radical movements in Georgia. Some of them underlined negative effects of excessive restrictions, in particular non-celebration of the Victory Day over Fascism and not taking the sentiments related to it into account, especially in a society that has lost its family members in the War. Other participants highlighted the importance of youth dialogue, necessity of communication with the members of far-right groups, and the importance of not responding to radicalism with radical actions.
Overall, the discussion was very fruitful and interesting and there were a lot of questions and observations from the participants’ side. The audience expressed interest in joining the next discussion around a documentary movie and in participating in the process of movie selection.
The event was the result of collaboration between GIP’s two projects – “Analyzing Illiberal Tendencies in Georgia” financially supported by the Open Society Georgian Foundation (OSGF) and “Promoting Youth Transformational Leaders” financially supported by USAID Georgia – within the framework of their respective series of discussions. Given the thematic synergy, the two teams organized the discussion jointly and by that brought the target groups of both projects together. This has enriched the event with the diversity of the audience and the concomitant fruitfulness of the discussion.
The public discussion was arranged via the ZOOM in Georgian language. Up to 30 people, who watched the movie in advance, attended the online event.