Salomé Jashi: The Dazzling Light of Sunset

A magic sense of piousness is what Georgian Salomé Jashi creates at the beginning in her new documentary film, that has its world premiere at the Visions du Réel in Nyon this coming Wednesday April 20. A traveling shot from above in a run-down theatre building is accompanied by the performance of a passionate melancholic love song. The sequence ends with the four singers on a stage followed by the title of the film; voilà, the journey into the small society of the Tsalerijikha region of Georgia can start with the local tv journalist, anchor- and camerawoman Dariko Beria as the character, who is present at the events which are filmed by her – and by Salomé Jashi.

From the small tv studio with the wallpaper photo of trees and sea, paradise on the wall in a working place that otherwise communicates no luxury, to youngsters preparing catwalk for a fashion show or is it a beauty contest, villagers performing on stage, as the politicians do at the meetings before the local elections in the town hall or when they are on television interviewed by Dariko Beria, the name of the journalist, who is full of life and finds the right mood, when she is to read obituaries and chose music that fits. She hurries out when a giant owl has been found, to film and interview, and she is present, when the importance of going to church is discussed, and at the ceremony in the church building.

Tradition meets modern life in this film with many layers, old and

young people, sad landscapes with ruins and a modern conference centre, the threat of survival for the small tv station in a digital media landscape. A visual interpretation is provided full of empathy and respect, and humour without making fun of the characters performing in funny situations. Godard it was, who said that every camera angle is a question of moral.

Salomé Jashi, whose work we have followed on this site (“Their Helicopter”, “Speechless”, “The Leader is always Right” and “Bahkmaro”) demonstrates again her big talent for composition. Every image is a like a nature morte that invites you to discover details and colours, that play a significant role as they also did in “Bahkmaro”. It seems like Jashi thinks in colours. Scenes like the ones around the wedding preparations and the filled up tables with food, bottles and people in different stage of soberness, bring me to think about Brueghel.

At the end Dariko Beria and her colleague Kakha Kvaratskhelia express to Salomé Jashi their hope for what the film will show and to what effect. For someone far away from the region and with big admiration for the cinematic skills of the director, my answer would be: This is a beautiful vision du reel from our common, universal “Theatre of Life”.

Georgia, Germany, 2016, 74 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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