In a remarkable fusion of humour and political satire, the comedy series "Once Upon a Time in Abkhazia," which premiered in October 2023, has swiftly captivated a global audience. Available on the Russian START platform, this series initially offered as a pay-to-view option, later becomes freely accessible to a wider audience.
The brainchild of Teymuraz Tania, known as Timur in Abkhazia, "Once Upon a Time in Abkhazia" stands out as more than just entertainment. Tania, who rose to fame as the captain of the Abkhazian State University's KVN team "Narts from Abkhazia," has not only conceptualised but also produced and led the series. His journey from the 2005 International KVN Club's Higher League season to becoming a household name in Russian television through shows like "Friendship of Peoples" and "Once Upon a Time in Russia" reflects his versatile talent.
"Once Upon a Time in Abkhazia" | Trailer
Tania's directing debut with the film "Thank You, Grandpa, for the Victory" was inspired by his grandfather's tales of the Great Patriotic War. His latest venture, however, takes a dive into the world of television series. "Once Upon a Time in Abkhazia," initially titled "Independent," mirrors the political turbulence and power struggles characteristic of modern Abkhaz history, including the storming of presidential palaces.
The series portrays a firefighter named Teymuraz, embodied by Tania himself, who is unexpectedly propelled into the political arena as a presidential candidate. This plotline has drawn parallels to other popular series like Russia's "House Arrest" and Ukraine's "Servant of the People," leading to speculation about Tania's own political aspirations.
In a recent interview, Tania shared insights into the development of the series, which took about four years to complete. Joined by Ruslan Shakaya (Babasik) as co-author and actor, Tengiz Dzhopua as co-screenwriter, and director Teymuraz Kvekveskiri, the team has brought a unique blend of reality and fiction to the screen.
"Once Upon a Time in Abkhazia" | Season 1 Episode 1
Tengiz Dzhopua, a notable socio-political figure and blogger in Abkhazia, emphasised the series' blend of comedy and political satire. According to him, the series, while maintaining political correctness, offers a mirror to the absurdities of the world we live in.
The series has received overwhelming positive feedback, with viewers praising its powerful narrative and excellent performances, even by amateur actors. It has been compared to top Russian series with significantly higher budgets for its quality production.
"Once Upon a Time in Abkhazia" represents not just an evolution in Abkhaz cinema but also a significant cultural moment, marking a shift in how contemporary issues are portrayed in media. With plans for new seasons underway, the series is a testament to its creators' vision and the audience's acceptance of a bold, satirical take on political realities.