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Copyright © 2013 Maboroshi Productions

Upon This Rock

In a remote river valley located in the Republic of Georgia stands a one hundred thirty foot limestone monolith. It has been venerated since ancient times but with the arrival of Christianity in the fourth century ascetics began to inhabit the place. Centuries later the site is being rebuilt by a Georgian monk who hopes to live atop the rock outcrop as a stylite. He would be the first to do so in six hundred years.

Film notes

Upon This Rock is prologue to The Stylite, a feature length creative documentary that is still in development. It was shot in 2011 during a research trip to the Republic of Georgia. The idea behind the stylite project grew from a fictional piece about a man who in the face of a world growing increasingly materialistic, depersonalized, and divided decides to withdraw into contemplation and become a modern day stylite confounding the inhabitants of his city.

While researching stylite asceticism for this story, I came across a photo essay about Fr. Maxim by Georgian photojournalist Temo Bardzimashvili. Shocked to find that there was actually a monk in the modern day who was striving to resurrect this ancient act of devotion, I emailed Mr. Bardzimashvili about possibly collaborating on a film. Within a year I was flying to the Republic of Georgia.

On 9/10/11, I climbed the iron ladder to the top of Katskhi Pillar just in time to watch the sunset-I was awe struck. Such silence at the top. It was only broken by wind rustling leaves and swaying a bell on its hinges. When I descended, Father Maxim asked Temo and I to stay for wine, cheese, and some conversation. I was struck by how down to earth he was, not at all what I was expecting in a monk that hoped to withdraw to the top of the pillar-he had a sense of humor.
spiritual asceticism stylite eastern orthodox monastery

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Copyright © 2013 Maboroshi Productions

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2013
15 Jan | Los Angeles, United States

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 27 Dec 2016