Legend has it that at the end of the 1920s the Soviets built a research center in Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, with the aim of crossbreeding humans and apes. The theoretical being never saw the light of day, similar to the failure of Marx’s communist New Man ever to appear. Yet in the derelict wings of the Sukhumi institute man and monkey live together still, the former limited by the pressure of turbulent sociopolitical changes, the latter exposed to the merciless testing of new drugs and medical procedures. In a disputed territory on the shores of the Black Sea, permanently marked by the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent Georgian-Abkhaz conflicts, they share something in common: They have become dismal relics of a series of unsuccessful experiments from the past. This documentary essay ponders the relationship between humans and primates – the most similar of the mammals – in order to point out the destructive influence of ideological dogmas and the essential role of faith and ethics in all scientific research. KVIFF
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