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I was glad to have viewed the show. I think folks in the United States take availability of essential services including power for granted.
I keep thinking that the company may have wasted a valuable opportunity to make the situation in Georgia work, since they were not creative. By paying assembly line workers more money, Ford created a situation where his line workers could afford his cars. Georgia has a wealth of human capital available at a low price, they could have employed these people in productive means to have their charges paid, or found some way to barter valuable local services. Could local people through physical means, say a bicycle generator produce enough energy to replace what is used in a month's time?
I really enjoyed the nearly two hours of this documentary. I really felt that I came in touch with a people and culture many miles away. I can only regret not seeing all the other good footage that had to be cut inorder to make this series a reality.
I am presently a US citizen but my homeland is a small island-state in the Caribbean, Jamaica. My homeland has experienced all the troubles that were presented in the documentary. The water, power, and gas services were put on the auction block for mainly US multinationals to obtain at firesale prices. All services were promised to be better run and more reliable. That has not happened. In fact, the rates constantly go up with service quality not keeping pace.
In the documentary, I was touched after viewing the corpse of the man electrocuted trying to reconnect power shut off by AES. It just illuminated the point that globalization is not as simple as performing business analysis on a spreadsheet and then borrowing the capital to buy a public sector company overseas. Globalization does have fatal consequences to the people of the affected country.
Perhaps AES could have partnered with another company, or do a deal with the IMF to make the project a success. It tried to modernize the entire metering system and improve the grid system at such a quick pace to avoid the cost of going at a slower one. However, the population and the local economic conditions could not absorb the shock of the resulting rate hikes as AES strived to quickly recover the costs of such an aggressive schedule.
However, if it was not AES, it might have been GE or another comparably large power company. A business opportunity was there in Georgia, but the social conditions were tumultuous and the people were not used to their political freedom from Soviet domination. The civil society and the economic situation needed to take a slow but steady stroll, arm in arm, to make the transition to a market-based democracy smoother.
Thank you for introducing me to the culture, language and aspirations of Geogians. As a history major, I appreciated the efforts to make me understand them. I felt enriched as a result as you can tell by how many weeks after the program aired I am still compelled to write. I hope more funds will be made available to other documentary filmmakers to produce the same quality of work for the Independent Lens series.
A documentary I would like to see is one about Laos (and the other Indo-Chinese cultures surrounding it). They are a communist society. How are they dealing with the fact of globalization? Are they having the same or worse success or failure as as the Georgians? How does Buddhism, a communist economy and a heterogenous culture play out in this country? What are the struggles to modernize? Being from the US, I hear much about Vietnam, but nothing about Laos.
Perfect! Captured the problems of former Iron Curtain states and the impossibility of changing them and their culture in a matter of a few years. I was in a former Communist country with the State Dept and this very eloquently and visually revealed the problems facing us. This film should be mandatory viewing for our Foreign Affairs personnel and most especially for our politicians, from President on down. We Americans are used to seeing a problem and fixing it - nothing is impossible! At least so we think. We do not realize how strong a culture can be and that it takes generations to change a culture. Or you can remove yourself and immigrate.
Jackson Heights, New York
A fascinating film. I don't normally have much fondness for power companies, but I have a lot of respect now for the folks at AES-Telasi, and even AES President Bakke. They really were committed to bringing people a safe product.
The ending is sad on so many accounts. The stockholders' revolt against Bakke seems yet another argument against the trend of the past twenty years to the stockholders as the ultimate purpose for companies to exist. But the timing of AES's sale of Telasi could not have been worse. While the film provided ample evidence of the corruption that ultimately brought about the Rose revolution in Georgia a year ago, it is a shame to AES could not have stayed to reep the benefits of the new open spirit in Georgia. One suspects Georgians would have started getting a lot more electicity.
New York New York
Watching the film made me realize that living in a post-Soviet state does not differ very much when compared living to a third world country. I say this because living in the Dominican Republic in this day in age has also been a constant struggle to fix the electricity problem of that country. Ever since the 1960's the battle between the people and the state is constant. I feel for the people of Georgia just like the people of the Dominican Republic, they are the working class who on a day to day basis try to cope with the reality of their battle with electricity and the daily need for it. I'm sure that AES-Telasi tried to do what they could but when it comes to the state of Georgia power and money have the last say. I commend Mr. Devlin with this film. I am sorry to say but hope is grim.
This documentary is brilliant. I found myself inspired and moved by the visionary efforts of AES-Telasi and FURIOUS that Dennis Bakke was (I'm assuming this) essentially forced to resign his post. Piers' energy and optimism in the face of overwhelming gov't corruption and public outrage was particularly impressive as was Michael Scholen's. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the corruption here at home is equally rampant, but hidden more artfully. The fact that our Enron scandal contributed to the disolution of AES-Telasi and the people of Georgia's dreams is appalling. (Of course, one point of the movie is that the definition of "our" is increasingly vague...) Excellent movie - I'm so glad I caught it.
Mariam Gogishvili Cummins
I just happened upon this show. My father was from Georgia and recanted many a tale of life there. He always said we were very priveleged to live in a country like Canada. He always hoped for a better Georgia. It touched my heart to see so many Georgians, part of my heritage. I hope to travel there one day, but i wonder if anything will have changed. I also enjoyed listening to Piers Lewis speak Georgian. Thanks so much for this documentary.
East Brunswick, NJ
This was an excellent film. I was the security attache at the American Embassy in Tbilisi from 1998 to 2000 and provided security support to AES Telasi from time to time during this period. While I was there I knew that the AES experience in Georgia would be an amazing story of naivete but I never thought that someone would tell the story. Power Trip is a fine documentary and has great educational value for diplomats and international businessmen. The film, however, failed to fully capture the personal frustrations of the expat AES employees and their often self-destructive behavior. I assume that the filmakers didn't have access to that kind information.
College Place, Washington
The film highlighted to me how dependent people have become on the use of electricity. Did you see the panic and fustration of all those customers at having their power shut off. Little did they comprehend that it took money to operate the system and that the circular nature of money is a necessity of any working system. Maybe they understood but didn't want to use thier own money!!
As for AES nice attempt at making it go but from theft at the lines to non payment it surely seemed doomed.
It's sad that so few corrupt people can intimidate the masses.
The documentary is very dense, compact, too fast: many shots and sequences were so brief that i sometimes did not have the time to register what i was supposed to have read or seen or heard. Perhaps if i had been running on some kind of stimulant... I'm sorry i didn't tape it, because it is obviously an important document.
New York NY
Indeed a great treatment of a most complex and very sad situation. I felt a lot of heartbreak for the many Georgian people who are barely surviving in all that chaos...What I missed in the feedback comments, were any comment on Mr. Lewis. I am curious whether anyone else reacted to him as somewhat of a callous adventurer.
But of course he had to produce a bottome line profit for his boss.I was not inspired by AES's motto: (i.e. how do they define 'FUN'?) nor their lofty ideals so neatly proclaimed by their CEO.
Thanks for your impressive talents and skills showing the chaos of it all.
Aloha, Thanks for such an engaging story about the courage of the Georgian people and the corruption of it's leaders. I agree with the dancer who seemed to think that her generation might make a difference. Let's hope she's right.
Excellent job by the filmakers.
New York, NY
A fascinating film and a topic that needs revisiting. Devlin depicts the everyday madness of this city brilliantly and balances it well with the resilience of its people. AES's depiction as a knight in shining armour come to help these poor people seems a bit disingenuous, however. At the very least the company made a poorly researched investment.
Thanks for doing a "reporters" job in this bushonian/Orwellian media era.
Excellent show on electricity in Georgia.
Susan Sarandan stated the the country of Georgia is in Europe, it is in Asia.
This film can be viewed and analyzed from countless angles. But the main thing I noticed---because I always note this in public people---was the way Eduard Shevardnadze never made eye contact with anyone whose hand he shook or with whom he spoke. And that symbolizes something I always felt about the entire Soviet Union: it and its leaders could never "look people in the eye" and it and they could never speak the truth.
I commend the filmmakers.
Just watched the film and thought it was great... the filmmaker did an excellent job illuminating the challenges in post-Soviet Georgia through the story of AES-Telasi and their attempts (albeit failed attempts) to turn a corrupt government run entity into a functioning private company. Having spent time living and working in Russia in the late 90s, I saw and experienced similar challenges, although nothing like having no electricity at the flip of a switch... although no water for a month in the summer is no fun in Moscow!
Again kudos on your film.
I just finished watching "Power Trip" - wow! Right now I am a middle aged unemployed solar energy installer with a background in weatherization. I have often been frustrated by the gas company's insistance on shutting people off in the winter, etc., as well as feeling rather hopeless about solar energy ever catching on here in the US. I have always known that power is power, but watching this film really brings it home for me - it makes my struggles seem so small in comparison. I couldn't help but think how small, on-site electric generation would empower the people of the region and free them from the political tyranny that has all but stolen their hope. Small solar and wind energy systems would bring both independence and small scale industry; and with that comes hope, and ultimately freedom. Of course, these systems cost money and they would have to be guarded around the clock; what an amazing opportunity for this country to offer something of value to the average Georgian! I would like to personally thank the filmmakers for their courage to tell this story. Thank you and God bless you!
New York, NY
The film shows - eloquently and forcefully - that the electricity "problems" -both for AES and the people of Georgia- were completely political in nature. So no matter how hard AES tried to fix the technical problems, they didn't have a a real chance to make an impact. AES made a well-meaning investment in infrastructure, but what good did it do them to buy a power plant, when they couldn't get the electricity to their customers because it was being stolen by the government?
I travelled to Georgia in 1997 and, like the AES employee featured in the film, fell in love with the country and its people.