The Inguri River forms a natural border dividing Georgia from Abkhazia. Tensions between the two nations have not abated since the war of 1992–93. Every spring, the river brings fertile soil from the Caucasus down to the plains of Abkhazia and northwestern Georgia, creating tiny islands. The islands are havens for wildlife and occasionally also for local peasants who find them perfect for the cultivation of a crop to supplement their income.
This long-awaited, fable-like drama from writer-director Ovashvili (The Other Bank, VIFF 08) captures the inexorable cycle of life in this harsh place. One such cycle begins when an old Abkhaz farmer sets foot on one of the islands. The man builds a hut for himself and his teenage granddaughter. He ploughs the earth and they sow what is soon to become a truly amazing corn crop. As his granddaughter blossoms into womanhood and the corn ripens, border patrol boats from the two nations frequently pass, reminding us and them of the dangers of cultivating in no-man’s land. Before long, the girl finds a wounded Georgian soldier hiding among the stalks… Continue reading
“Three French hipsters and their translator travel through rural Georgia to claim a remote, ruined castle that one of them has inherited. En route, they encounter an old man and his grandchild who are on a journey to carry out a mysterious, morbid ritual designed to end a conflict between warring clans.” Continue reading
A thrilling, moving and engrossing drama, boasting powerfully affecting performances from its two young leads, In Bloom is a striking and mesmeric work of independent cinema from one of the world’s most unrepresented countries.
Tbilisi, 1992: Civil war is raging in the capital of the newly independent Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Amidst the mayhem, two inseparable fourteen-year-old friends, Natia and Eka, find their childhood coming to an end, with dysfunctional families, broken relationships and volatile politics all coming to a head. But the problems of disillusioned love, early marriage and oppressive male dominance will suddenly be thrown into sharp relief when one of the girls is given a gun… Continue reading
comment from imdb
A masterpiece that demands detailed study
It’s like Bergman and Kurosawa went to Georgia and decided to do Shakespeare together in the mountains. I’ve seen this film several times and there’s much I still haven’t grasped. It’s not an intellectual problem, but a cultural one…VEDREBA seems so deeply embedded in Georgian history that it’s nearly impossible for an outsider to find a way in.
The film is based entirely on the poetry of Vazha Pshavela, and I believe every line of “dialogue” is lifted directly from his poems. From what I can gather, the “story” concerns a soldier who, after feeling guilty about killing an enemy, becomes an outcast from whatever group he belongs to, then has visitations from both God and the devil who give him visions of the future (or perhaps one possible future). A full understanding of the film would seem to require knowledge of all the different groups of people living in the mountains of ancient Georgia, as well as a basic grasp of several various rituals. For instance, I have no idea what the significance of the main character beheading another man’s bull was, nor do I understand why, when said bull-owner calls for the lead to be killed, several other people began extinguishing candles in bowls of sheep’s blood.
The film’s main hero is Chermen. An illegitimate son, Chermen is striving to assert his dignity. He is opposed by Dacco, the elder of the Aldar clan, in whose village Chermen lives. Guided by mercenary motives, Dacco strikes a deal with Prince Tsarai. Together, they rob people and then divide the loot between themselves.
By some chance, Chermen learns of the deal and informs his friends about it. At first, he thinks that no one in the Aldar village would believe him, the bastard, and that the plot would remain unexposed. But the friends accept the challenge. Continue reading
Pastorale won the International Critics’ Prize from the 1982 Berlin Film Festival. Director Otar Ioseliani was something of an outsider in the Soviet system and now lives and works in France. This film, made in 1976, was not released in the West until 1982. Iosseliani’s films show a characteristically Georgian film style; focusing more on character and mood than narrative coherence, they exhibit a characteristically whimsical humor. Pastorale explores what is truly valuable in human relationships, when one cuts away the non-essentials. The story shows what happens when a highly cultured group of musicians from a string quartet spend the summer rehearsing in a small village in the Georgian countryside. In this contemplative, idiosyncratic and somewhat humorous film, they get embroiled in local controversies, and share their gusto for living, loving and drinking with the villagers, to whom they are otherwise incomprehensible, while they rehearse and bicker among themselves. Continue reading
I am Sergei Parajanov! shot a few months after Parajanov’s death. Features archive photographs, his collages, the clips from Sayat-Nova (1968), Ashik Kerib (1988), the making of The Legend of the Surami Fortress (1984) and a few views of the house he lived. Continue reading