I had seen it before, in a rough cut version and in a final version. I had made notes but could not find them so I was happy, when the director Tatia Kkhirtladze asked her distributor Christa Auderlitzky from filmdelights in Vienna to send me a link.
And it was as fresh as the first time I met the film, entertaining and well made, full of joy and lovely archive from the time of Soviet Georgia. Because of the four chess masters looking back, reflecting on what chess has meant to them in their lives as stars, world champions, public figures in Georgia and worshipped abroad, especially in Serbia, where Milunka Lazarevic, a grandmaster herself, is the one who says clever words about the four, especially about ”The Queen”, Nona Gaprindashvili, whose first name is carried by a huge amount of Georgians, as the film proves. Nona has this special sports winning gene that kept her on the top for fifteen years and made her a carreer as a sportswoman in Sovjetunion. Her charisma is strong, she talks about FC Barcelona (writes this fan) and she gives the anecdote that astronaut Gagarin stayed away from a friendly billiard match with her, when he heard that she would probably be better than him!
Maia Chiburdanidze was the world champion, after Nona, also for 15 years. She sticks out from the three others in the way she dresses – the others are ”ladies” – and talks. She says that did not feel free before she lost and felt she played her best chess. A woman close to nature and a woman who produces perfume from herbs. And who loves to tease Nona who in her senior championship activity often is the one becoming number four or so.
Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani are the two other masters, who are also still active in chess clubs, where they teach kids about the sport or they go around beating men in tournaments.
… and for me who has been there and love the food and drinks – there is so much to enjoy from Tbilisi and the countryside. Via the fine meetings with four women, as young and as mature grown ups, some grannies. You get the impression that chess has given them a good life.
The film had its world premiere earlier this month at the CineDoc 2020 Festival that runs until the end of this month. I don’t see any reason for the film NOT to travel to other festivals – written by someone who knows nothing about chess.
Georgia, 80 mins., 2020