Posts Tagged ‘GEORGIAN FILM’

Horizon (2018) * * * * Berlinale 2018

Dir.: Tinatin Kajrishvilli; Cast: George Bochorishvilli, Ia Sukhitashvilli, Jano Izoria, Lika Okroshvilli, Nana Datunnashvilli, Sergo Buiglishvilli; Georgia/Sweden 2018, 105 min.

Director/co-writer Tinatin Kajrishvilli (Brides) creates an atmospheric, elegiac portrait of lost love and self-destruction. Set mainly in the ravishing countryside of Georgia, Horizonti is full of passion and longing, a paean to the past that echoes a Chekov play.

Still in his thirties, Giorgi (an impressive George Bochorishvilli) lives a life straight out of the 19th century. Separating from his wife Ana (Ia Sukhitashi) has been a traumatic process – at heart he is a brooding, disillusioned romantic and he retreats to the coast where the region’s swamps and lakes suit his gloomy temperament. Ana has left him for Nico (Buiglishvilli) so Giorgi now takes refuge in the company of elderly Georgians who also mourn the old country.

There is Larisa (Datunashvilli), who dies on the eve of her journey to attend a wedding in the city: she does want to leave the slightly crazy Valiko, who always lets the chicken run free – and plays billiards alone. Only Jano (Izoria), a friend from George’s past, and Marika (Okroshidze) are of Georgi’s generation. But even though Ana has made it clear she is going to marry Niko soon, Giorgi does not want to accept reality: he always uses their two sons as an excuse to visit Ana, whose wedding to Nico is now imminent.

They spend a miserable time in a hotel near the sea, before Giorgi sets out to bury himself for ever in an outpost near the lakes.The snowy countryside is breath-taking, Irakli Akhalkatsi’s visual are mostly widescreen impressionistic paintings: a wounded animal, George becomes one with the landscape. Doom-laden from the beginning, he even looses his zest for hunting and starts drinking again. There is a symbolic walk along the seaside, Ana with her new husband  Niko, and the two children. At the end it is Ana who is lost in the boat, taking her back to the city: Giorgi was like a feral animal, who liked to roam – she certainly loved him once, but now she has finally set him free. AS


The Colour of Pomegranates | Sayat Nova (1969) Bluray release

This heady, avant-garde cinematic reverie depicts the life of highly acclaimed 18th-century Armenian poet and musician Sayat-Nova (Vilen Galstyan) from childhood to his death, particularly focussing on his relationships with women. Glowing in a new bluray release, the sumptuously fantastical visual poem is said to serve as a metaphor for Parajanov’s own life. It was only officially seen in western cinemas in 1982 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece by cinephiles and critics alike. The director – who was to spend a large part of his creative life behind bars on account his sexuality and political beliefs – had spent the intervening years in prison with the authorities re-editing and diminishing his prized work.

Sergei Parajanov was influenced by Sergei Eisenstein and Alexander Dovzhenko and his highly stylised and dreamlike film blends new techniques such as the use of jump-cuts with exquisite tableaux often seen in  silent film to tell a story drenched in ancient Armenian art and folklore, and opening with a quote from a poem crafted by Sayat Nova: “I am he whose life and soul are torment”. His major contribution to the world of cinema was in raising the profile of his non-Russian Soviet heritage of Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine.

Parajanov was born in Soviet Georgia of Armenian parents in 1924 and started life as a musician before discovering film-making at the famous Soviet Russian All-Union State Institute of Cinematography film school in Moscow. He married in 1950 but his wife was sadly murdered the following year, possibly by her family on the grounds of religious scruples. A second marriage ended in divorce and precipitated a disenchantment with his own film oeuvre when he saw how Andrei Tarkovsky made use of dreams to present allegory in his extraordinary debut Ivan’s Childhood (1962).

In Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1964) Parajanov once again depicts ancient traditions through a tragic but magical tale of doomed love set in the exotic wilds of the Carpathians.

In Pomegranates, Sofiko Chiaureli is cast in five both male and female roles, underlining Parajanov’s attitude to non-binary sexuality and artistic freedom. He then made two more films sealing his international success on the film stage, allowing him to travel abroad and embark on his final auto-biographical project Confession, before dying of cancer in 1990. MT



The President (2014)

Dir.: Moshen Makhmalbaf

Cast: Misha Gomiastvili, Dachi Orvelashvili

Georgia, France, UK, Germany, 115 min.

Moshen Makhmalbaf’s THE PRESIDENT is a collaborative affair with his filmmaking family. It tells the story of a deposed dictator, running for his life in a seemingly naïve way, with his grandson in tow – only when the story develops do we appreciate the wisdom and humanism Makhmalbaf is famous for.

The film begins with the president’s family still in absolute control with the power to switch the lights on or off in the capital to his heart’s content. When a mass uprising by the impoverished population of this nameless country sees the entire ruling family clan fly away to safer shores – the stubborn patriarch digs his heels in with his equally tenacious grandson: the two of them are made for each other. With servants and friends deserting or being shot, soon the odd couple is alone: running from the opposition forces and a vengeful nation who want the ever growing price put on their heads. The tyrant poses as a political prisoner and joins a band of them, many of whom are tortured, on their way home. We ask ourselves, how long it will take for the two to be captured, but when this happens, it us under the most extraordinary circumstances.

Told in the style of a fable, THE PRESIDENT contrasts the before/after effect of the dictator’s existence: cold and cynical when in power, he changes into something more human after he is deposed – and not only because he is now on the receiving end of life. His love for his grandson is unconditional, and his machiavellian cunning is used for the benefit of another human being, for the first time in his life.

THE PRESIDENT is a parable on what a revolution does to a nation: how quickly liberation gives way to revenge and the hunt for new enemies. Wonderfully performed, with sweeping cinematography of this magnificent, unknown country and of  the misery of the displaced. A mature and passionate film that finds humour n the most precarious situations. AS


Blind Dates (2014) – Sarajevo Film Festival 2014

Director: Levan Koguashvili

Cast: Andro Sakvarelidze, Ia Sukhitashvili, Archil Kikodze.

99min   Georgian with subtitles   Drama

Dry humour and a sense of the absurd pervade this second feature from Georgian director Levan Koguashvili.  Set on a wider scale than his 2010 debut Street Days, and casting a mixture of professionals and newcomers, he offers another glimpse of Georgian society, tough and determined despite economic adversity and social unease.

In a bus station in Tbilisi, a middle-aged teacher Sandro (Andro Sakvarelidze), and his mate Iva (Archil Kikodze) are are waiting for some girls to arrive on a date. This is a meeting culled from the internet and doesn’t look promising when Lali arrives on her own.  Why Sandro takes her to a hotel room is not clear but adds to the sense of irony and the two get on despite Lali’s mysterious bad mood; arranging a follow-up. Back at the family home later, Koguashvili contrasts traditional values and new hopes in Sandro’s narrow-minded parents who constantly berate him over his lack of a bride, like a couple of Yiddisher snorrers, despite their Orthodox origins.

Then Sandro bumps into Mañana, the mother of one of his pupils and a strange chemistry develops, despite her marriage to Tengo, who is soon to be released from prison. Sandro finds himself drawn into their domestic arrangements as Tengo’s driver and general side-kick in his recidivist activities. There’s a raucous and hot-headed humour to the Georgian males in Tengo’s criminal coterie which is the source of much fun in a society where men are macho and women, feisty.  It also turns out that Tengo has not been altogether faithful during his time in jail. BLIND DATES is entertaining despite some narrative cul de sacs and offers wry insight into Georgian society through its amusing characters and rich textural asides.

Tbilisi’s faded glamour provides a majestic backdrop to the melancholy tone and is lavishly captured by Tato Kotetishvili on the widescreen and in intimate scenes.  MT


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