Georgian Cinema in Bloom

in 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival

by Gulnara Abikeyeva

The film tells the story which happened in 1992 — the first year after the Independence was established. In Georgia, in Kazakhstan, elsewhere in the whole post-Soviet space the situation was the same — long lines for bread or milk, poverty and unemployment, lack of electricity and the fear to walk alone on dark night streets. But difficulties of a time do not stop the everyday life. In Bloom tells us about the generation which entered into adult life at the beginning of the 1990s.

The main heroines of the film are fourteen year old school friends Natia and Eka. In this age of bloom they should be cheerful and carefree. But instead Natia is kidnapped as a bride by young criminal Kato in front of a crowd of people. He made the official wedding ceremony but did not make her happy. She loved intelligent Lado, who temporarily left Tbilisi and left her a pistol with one single bullet to protect herself. But how can she protect herself from traditions? She became the wife of Kato, who did not allow her to go to school and to celebrate her birthday party with female friends. So, just as unexpectedly, her childhood came to an end and she realized that nothing had changed in her life – her mother and choleric alcoholic father used to yawl at her, now her husband and his hysteric mother are crying at her. When Lado returns to the city, Kato and his criminal friends kill him with a knife in broad daylight. At that moment Natia decides to use the gun and it seems that another death is inevitable. Blood for blood, revenge for revenge. But Eka stops Natia, because her own father was imprisoned for murder. Therefore, we understand that Eka has also become an adult — she didn’t condemn Natia for marriage but stopped her from murder.

In such films the director doesn’t just tell us the story of these two girls, the content is wider — it is about civil society development, about the hard process of establishing independence, about nation building. How was it shown in the film? In detail, conveyed in the whole atmosphere of the film. For example, the school class does not follow the tyrannical ways of the old teacher. The girls do not feel the fear in front of street criminals because they have grown up with them. This film is about the new generation of Georgian women who are brave and self-reliant, wise and courageous.

There is a wonderful scene in the film with a dozen girls gathered together in Eka’s home singing a song. Somebody plays piano, another girl is smoking a cigarette, the third one is pouring wine but all together they are singing a song about their hard life. Suddenly Eka’s mother returns home and everybody pretends that they have been doing their homework. In the contrast of these two scenes we can see the key for understanding this film — the girls have become adult but pretend to be children in front of their mothers. But is it possible to remain infantile in a time of (profound) changes?!

A new generation has come to Georgian cinema, a generation which went through pain and suffering, deprivation and isolation. But after all these difficulties they became stronger and self-sufficient. As a result we see the bloom of Georgian cinema. That is why in a statement of our jury we wrote: “The FIPRESCI Award goes to the film In Bloom by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross, for its emphatic portrayal of two courageous and self-reliant girls engaged with a society in a time of change. It seems to announce some kind of rebirth for Georgian cinema”.

Edited by Steven Yates