The Lost Colony

The oldest primate laboratory in the world, located in the enchanting former Soviet republic of Abkhazia, was virtually destroyed during its struggle for independence from Georgia. But the lab workers refuse to give up their lab and have come up with a new idea to restore it to its former pride and glory. With the help of their renowned former director Professor Lapin they hope to put their institute back on the map. The Lost Colony follows their efforts, made with boundless confidence and unwavering hope, against all odds.

Review

  • Directors statement: In some vague newspaper article I read about “newly opened KGB documents” revealing that at some time somewhere in Russia an attempt had been made to cross monkeys with humans. “Somewhere in Russia” turned out to have been a primate laboratory in Abkhazia, a beautiful subtropical former Soviet republic. I was intrigued by this place which I knew nothing about, and by what turned out to be the oldest monkey lab in the world. In the course of my research the Abkhazian predicament became painfully clear to me. The struggle for independence from Georgia in 1992 had seriously damaged the country, and although the Abkhazians themselves speak of victory and their country is de facto independent, it is yet to be recognized internationally. This means it is virtually impossible to rebuild the republic, a situation which is not helped by the ongoing tensions with Georgia.Despite the many problems facing the country,  the staff of the lab which itself was largely destroyed are fighting to rebuild it. In its glory days, important work in the fields of cancer research and space exploration took place at the lab, and staff are determined to bring back those days at all costs, with little more than unremitting hope and belief at their disposal. This fascinated me, I wanted to get to know these people and their motives, as well as showing this beautiful country and its struggle.I saw the lab as a symbol of the way this little-known country keeps fighting for its right to exist, for the human need to keep hoping and fighting for recovery. Crossing humans with monkeys had in fact been attempted there, but this failed experiment, like so many other of its past experiments, turned out to be no more than a ghost haunting the now largely inactive laboratory…

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    Director

    Astrid Bussink
    Astrid Bussink studied fine art at the Academy of fine Arts, AKI, Enschede (BA) in the Netherlands and her Master in film at the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. During this Master she shot her award winning documentary ‘The Angelmakers’ (First Appearance Award IDFA, Little Stamp award, ZagrebDOX, Best short Documentary, Dokufest, nomination Grierson Award and more). After this she made the short films Rückenlage / Upside Down ( Best Short Experimental film at Vermont International Film Festival, nominated Silver Cub, IDFA 2006), The 9 lives of my car (a.o. Dutch Filmfestival 2007) and I shot the mayor (Or: Plan B) (a.o. nominated Silver Cub IDFA 2007, official selection Zagrebdox and HOTDOCS).
    Bussink now lives and works in Amsterdam where she made her first feature length documentary The Lost Colony (Official Selection Rotterdam International Filmfestival, HOTDOCS a.o.) and has now finished her new personal documentary Mijn Enschede, about the Enschede fireworks disaster that happened in 2000, in which 23 people died, 1000 were injured. ‘My Enschede’ has premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2010.
    During her artist in residency program in New York she started her project Constructions of (www.constructionsofhappiness.com) which she showed in galleries in New York and Edinburgh. Back in the Netherlands she is now continuing her COH project and is working on the documentary by the same title.

    Credits

    Scenario en regie: Astrid Bussink
    Camera: Jackó van ‘t Hof
    Geluid: David Spaans
    Montage: Katarina Türler
    Lokale productie en tolk:  Masja Novikova

    Geluidsnabewerking en mixage:   Tom Bijnen
    Muziekcompositie en supervisie: Hans Helewaut, Sonicville
    Titelontwerp: Joost Hiensch Shosho
    Postproductie: Ruud de Bruyn
    Kleurcorrectie: Ronald van Dieren
    Uitvoerend producent: Willemijn Cerutti
    Producent: Frank van den Engel
    Eindredactie NPS: Annemiek van der Zanden

    Category
    2008