A Warm Festival By Yannis Frangoulis

in 4th Tbilisi International Film Festival

by Yannis Fragoulis

Although the Argonauts dropped anchor to Georgia to take the Golden Fleece, the modern Argonaut landed on a city looking, already from the first glance, to stand out from the geographical area surrounding it. Russia, at the time of Eastern Europe, Asia, Europe, its modern and romantic old form, all these seem to be mixed in to the present city where anyone should walk in, to enjoy it. All these were part of the 6th Tyflida International Cinema Festival we visited.

People working for the preparation of this Festival, from its Director, and the Director of Georgian Cinema Centre, right up to the last employee working there, all of them were friendly, co-operative and prompt to facilitate us in our work and transfer us to what we could call “Georgia soul”, though under a low estimate, everything was very well-organised. The projections started almost on time, subtitles always included, the play directors’, who were guests, presentations, the Critics Boards’ co-ordination was perfect, thanks to the very sympathetic Anna. The charming pictures of the projected films at the three cinemas, Amirami, Rusteveli and Film House, drove us.

The festival consisted, in general, of the International Competition Part, the Forum of European Cine m a, the Horizons, the Swedish Panorama, the German films (generally termed ‘Made in Germany’), the Documentaries, the short films and the animators from Georgia, the Peter Garleson’s Master Class, the seminar on the Avid Editing System and the Opening and Closing films. It started with a Georgian popular cinema film, titled The Train Went On And On, by Giorgi Shengelaia, and ended with a film referred to as a Georgian-French-Belgian co-production titled Since Otar Left (Depuis qu’ Otar est parti), by Julie Bertucelli.

Films which have already left their stamp on the International cinematography, such as 2046, by Wong Kar-wai, Songs From The Second Floor (Sanger fran andra vaningen), by Roy Anderson, Vodka Lemon, by Hiner Saleem, and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom), by Kim-Ki-duk, attracted the public attention. Let’s stay, however, at the International Competition Part and in particular the films of the new-entrant play directors. There were just three of these films but they were a representative sample of some trends of the universal cinematography.

The cinema portraying the different world of South Africa, presented the classic differences but the strong desire for the individual freedom, as well, keeping, however, the different order of life. In the film The Sleeping Child (L’enfant endormi), 2004, by Yasmine Kassari, a co-production of Belgium and Marocco, the director shows an abstractive aspect of the Marocco’s society, where men are absent, have gone to Spain for work and women keep the village vivid. Through such a primordial opposition, the director lets us see the characters, the oppositions, the smouldering love and finally, the tragic history of separation, a current landscape of an empty country which is left behind by its own people and finally forgotten. The slow motion helps us to experience the characters’ formation, to understand the continuation of the history and live a great human drama.

Ilya Khrjanovsky chose the traditional Russian way of cinematography for his film 4 (2004). Here the protagonist is the area. The current Russian urban landscape – the whores, a bar, a forgotten village, the old-aged women (having fun and mourning) and one young man (making dollies of human figures) – are two opposed landscapes which are not components of the same ideological area. The human being is prisoner and absorbed by the place, portrayed by the hung dollies made of cloth, which the young whore will burn, on her leaving, destroying, thus, all this landscape. As another exterminating angel, her passage will put a stamp on social and ideological changes, the passage from utopia to realism, will keep, however, the spiritual character of a society, which makes efforts to find its identity and survive through the sweeping changes agitating the current urban landscape.

The modern way of cinematographic art was chosen by the play director, Joel Cano, for his film Seven Days, Seven Nights (Siete dias, siete noches), 2003, a co-production of Cuba, France and Italy. The play director takes advantages of the music of Cuba in order to create a rhythm, but he is not to be carried away by it. He will use it as a connective tissue to describe the Cuba of today, at first, in a realistic way, which is progressively converted to the poetic realism, with the small transgressions of scenario. Cuba’s view being behind a shop-window is seen within the oppositions by means of a montage and behind it, it is seen the real Cuba’s soul which does not give in but tries to surpass the obstacles. The poetry wins over the realism and an optimistic glance will be seen at the end, jumping up from a black and desperate landscape in order to function somehow like a renaissance.

Three films, then, in which the substantial protagonists suffer: the lack of communication, the people’s expropriation, and the individual disdain. Current problematic(s), through three very different narratives, in a festival held in a country trying to find the way of modernisation among all its oppositions, trying at the same time to keep the character that the art has given by means of the significant development in this warm (tbli) city.