One more good example from the wave of the new, well deserved, praised Georgian documentaries that offer an artistically formed interpretation of life and people in the country in the Caucacus. This time the location is Chiatura, a dying city that used to live from its mining industry. It is now falling apart, a future is difficult to see – and yet the population tries to find ways out of the misery.
A miner goes to perform in local amateur theatre, when he is not underground. A music teacher – apart from when he is teaching and performing local songs, and some he has composed himself – hammers to destroy abandoned buildings to set free metal that he can sell. Thirdly two young women run to stay fit.
These are the characters in a film that makes them represent the society falling apart. Their stories are intertwined and you follow
them into sequences: the miner in the theatre, the teacher at rehearsal lessons etc. But the ambition of the director goes beyond the character description, he wants to create an elegiac atmosphere in his narrative construction. He is in and out of buildings, he is up – many drone shots – and down on ground and underground. He plays with light and shade, he puts the characters (especially the miner) in positions, where we as viewers are invited to be with them, to interpret the sad life situation they and the city is in.
It feels too much sometimes, there is a bit of cinematic overkill and a pretty schematic montage, where you don’t really get close to the characters – expect for a longer sequence towards the end where the music teacher comes to what used to be ”Ministry of Communications”, where a party is being held, where the guests dance, where he, the music teacher sings ”I long for you, for you my magnolia”, and his own composition. And there he is afterwards, alone, eating the remains from the table. Here there is a sense of true presence contrary to scenes, which are too much ”did you get it viewer”, like the three miners underground toasting the greyness of the city and their life, and the scene at the end where you follow a man from behind his back walking to see the demolition of a concrete building.
The impressive film is in competition in Sarajevo this coming week.
Georgia, 104 mins.