Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
A remarkably colourful and absorbing documentary, Power Trip takes us to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia where AES, a multinational conglomerate based in Virginia, has bought into the recently privatised business of electricity supply. First task: persuade consumers accustomed to getting their power for free to part with half their incomes to pay for it. Second task: deal with riots. Next, dismantle countless homemade wiring systems, detect elaborate power diversion mechanisms and install meters… The obstacles to commercial success pile up on each other like an escalating absurdist nightmare that takes us into the highest echelons of political power and corruption. The Americans are ruefully aware of the comic aspect of their enterprise and you have to admire their stickability. Director Paul Devlin also chronicles the attempts by Georgians, high and low, to deal with a radically changed world. His people-centred account of a social and economic disaster is impressively non-judgmental – and it’s certainly an entertaining distraction from our own power crisis.