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
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
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
A gem from Paradjanov’s early oeuvre is a musical agitation film or a romantic comedy, made by the young director under the guidance of Alexander Dovzhenko and set in the immense fields of the collectivised Ukraine. The social realism is replaced by colourful, convivial and dancing shots of the “Pabieda” (Victory) kolkhoz, where peasant women sing in the fields, and boys march with banners glorifying revolution. Against this backdrop, intense romantic feelings have reached a climactic stage; tailor Sidor Sidorovich, farmer Jushka and soldier Danila Petrovich all dote on the fair-haired Odarka. It is Jushka and Danila who engage in overt hostility; the initial “gentlemen’s” contest turns into an outright confrontation, resulting in miserable Jushka being increasingly more desperate and scorned by the villagers.
Parajanov was born in 1924 (..) In 1964, Parajanov stunned critics and audiences with “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”, a baroque and free-wheeling adaptation of Romeo and Juliet-like Carpathian folklore involving two lovers separated by quarreling families and their tragic fates amid everyday village life and religious ritual. Visually stunning (the opening sequence involves the camera riding atop a falling tree), it was condemned for its brash formalism in a time when Kruschev had attacked abstract art, bringing an end to the post-Stalinist cultural “thaw” of the late-’50s and early ’60s. The film was quickly removed from Soviet screens and precipitated Parajanov’s extended battles with Soviet authorities. Kiev Frescos was cancelled mid-shoot because of its “bourgeois subjectivism and mysticism” (Ackerman) and Sayat-Nova (The Color of Pomegranates) (1969) was immediately banned and later released in a drastically re-edited form. Continue reading
Based on a story by Russian author Mikhail Lermontov, Ashik Kerib has the texture of an ancient, oft-told tale. Yuri Mgoyan stars as a wandering troubadour, working the provinces. He spends 1000 days and nights on the road, entertaining whenever and wherever he can. Mgoyan’s itinerant lifestyle seemingly has little purpose, but it does. At the end of those 1000 days and nights, he hopes to have accumulated enough money to afford a wedding…if his bride is willing to wait. Continue reading