Berlinale-Blogger 2017
My happy Georgia?

“My Happy Family” by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross
“My Happy Family” by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross | © Tudor Vladimir Panduru

Georgia has many stories to tell, and it wants to share them with the world: the films from the former Soviet republic at this year’s edition of the Berlinale are perfect in form and very critical.

Very few people know of Georgia as a film-making country. Despite this, the former Soviet republic has a rich tradition of film, a recognised music culture and one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. All of this comes together in My Happy Family, one of the many strong contributions from Georgia at this year’s edition of the Berlinale. In the film, the teacher Manana leaves her family on her 52nd birthday and moves into her own apartment on the outskirts of Tbilisi. The men sing songs to her and ask for her reasons for leaving, but Manana keeps silent.

The emancipation drama by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross shows the difficulties of withdrawing oneself from a superficially well-meaning patriarchy. The subtle production is reminiscent of Otar Ioselliani, the 83-year-old master of Georgian cinema.

Morbid beauty, wonderful humanity

The morbid beauty of Tbilisi, once a junction between the Orient and the Occident, also features in 2+2=22, the new essay film by Heinz Emigholz. His documentation of the Austrian electronic band Kreidler, who are recording their new album in a studio there, merely shows how little the two have in common.

Classical Georgian singing, on the other hand, can be seen in City of the Sun by Rati Oneli. In this documentary about the former industrial centre of Tschiatura, there is no end of singing, dancing and theatre – people have to find something to occupy themselves with, after all. A wonderful humanity comes to life here, in an intimidatingly beautiful industrial landscape with all of its wounds.

Was your life not good enough for you?

Finally, Hostages by Revo Gigineishvili delves deeper into the past. This feature film about the aircraft hijacking in Tbilisi in 1983 can rival any western production, and therefore seems to be more of a conventional success. But it is about a national trauma, as the young students’ dream of the freedom to travel ended in a bloodbath. It may not be a coincidence that the survivors have to face the same questions as Manana in My Happy Family: Was your life not good enough for you? You did have all of the privileges!

It is nice to see a country nowadays dealing with its past and present in such a critical manner. Georgia has many stories to tell, and it wants to share them with the world.

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