In the Land of the Lost Crusaders follows the journey of two Georgian friends that begins in New York and ends in the land that has been forgotten by time -- Khevsureti, high in the Caucasus Mountains.
They follow their destiny in the quest to preserve the soulful remnants of a lost world that is inhabited by the last remaining Khevsureti warriors.
Directors, Lesya Kalynska and Georgi Kharebava, and Producer Niko Abazadze are part of a collective consciousness sharing a vision of mountainous regions and unheralded traditions that evoke a sense of mystery and adventure. Celebrated Director of Photography, Serhij Mykhalchuk, (Cinematographer of MAMAY, Ukraine's official entry in the 2004 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film) and Producer, Christina Kotlar are among others contributing to this arduous endeavor to save living history. Nationally renowned writer and artist Les' Podervjansky, embodies the narrative voice, as this film will be dubbed into Ukrainian.
Caucasus, where hidden among the snowy peaks lies a land long forgotten, lost to the Western world: Khevsuria .. the homeland of the Khevsur warriors, defenders of the True Cross. Historically, these Georgian highlanders would come down from mountains only in answer to the summons of the Georgian Kings, to meet some great crisis, to protect the small Georgian kingdom that was surrounded on all sides by Islamic foes.
Hundreds of years later, when the power of the Russian Tsars ended the Georgian monarchy, the Khevsurs and their remote highland home faded into oblivion, only to be rediscovered by the famous American traveler Richard Halliburton in 1930s. Astonished, he observed Khevsur warriors still wearing armor and practicing sword fighting, awaiting for the day when a Georgian King returns to Georgia and calls the highlanders to their sacred duty.
It was the Communists who finally succeeded in destroying the traditional Khevsurian ways. Today Khevsuria is dying, only a few very old highlanders are still guarding the decaying ruins of fortified villages and castles and, as young generation leave mountains for an easier life on the plains, no one remains to learn ways of the sword, to listen to tales of past glory.
This film will focus on three Khevsur elders, living examples of a way of life almost gone forever. These three men are the last masters of a unique medieval Georgian style of sword-fighting and sword-play. Three ancient worthies, their bodies bearing numerous scars, but still dedicated swordsmen, from time to time checking the antique blades of their swords; their shields and chain-mail blackened by rust and time, by ruthless time...
With sadness they put away their now useless armor and weapons, thinking of the days of their youth when sword and dagger were the pride of every Khevsur... Time shows no mercy toward these brave old warriors. We taking this last opportunity to capture on film the life and knowledge of these last Caucasian swordsmen, their unique martial art, its roots buried in the distant past, almost forgotten in Georgia and yet still unknown to the outer world. Their refined art has a strange resemblance to the one described in a famous German fencing manuscript of the 14th century.
Could Khevsurian warriors possibly be the descendants of crusaders? This is truly our last chance to learn of this great craft: with these masters gone, the world will lose forever their unique knowledge.