Katskhi Pillar
Overlooking the small river valley of Katskhura, this limestone monolith is located in Georgia's Imereti region and has been venerated since ancient times.


South of Russia and between the Black and Caspian Seas sits the rugged country of Georgia.
Located in the Caucasus, one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on earth;
Georgia has historically been a crossroads between east and west.

In central Geogia's Imereti region about seven miles from the mining town of Chiatura, Katskhi Pillar stands one hundred thirty feet above a secluded river valley. With the arrival of Christianity in the fourth century, it became a place of seclusion and asceticism. Stylites and other ascetics used Katshki and the surrounding cliffs for their devotions until the fifteenth century, giving the region the moniker, "Valley of the Monks".

Father Maxim, a native of Chiatura, has wanted to live atop Katskhi Pillar as a stylite since childhood. With the help of villagers and money from donors throughout the country, he is rebuilding the church and hermitage. He hopes to become the first stylite there in six hundred years.

The Stylite is a creative documentary in which Father Maxim's story and that of an unknown traveler compelled to leave the noise and distractions of the city for a more real contemplative experience will overlay one another like a palimpsest. Reality and fiction will intertwine to create a film documenting our often braided interiority.

The human condition: the doubt, the mystery, and the hope will be experienced through the eyes of the traveler while Father Maxim's act will, much like it did six hundred years ago, continue to inspire, baffle, and confound.

Production Notes
Upon This Rock

In September of 2011, writer/director Stephen Riehl travelled to the Republic of Georgia to conduct research for The Stylite.
He travelled with Temo Bardzimashvili to the rural Imereti region where Katskhi Pillar is located.
Upon This Rock grew from footage shot during this trip and is the prologue to The Stylite.

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