Films from Georgia are in fashion. In recent years, they have received more and more attention from international film festivals and distribution companies. Within Georgia, there's a simmering generational conflict as younger aspiring filmmakers turn away from the cultural space of the former Soviet Union and try to participate in wider European discourses. How do documentaries reflect this change and filmmakers' desire to detach themselves from the Soviet past?
The Country Focus on Georgia explores the rapid recent developments and asks whether the way of making films is changing in view of the fact that the whole world seemingly has its eyes on Georgian cinema.
The Dazzling Light of Sunset (2016); Director: Salomé Jashi
In The Dazzling Light of Sunset, Salomé Jashi focuses on a local television station to give a sense of the atmosphere in a small Georgian town. The film depicts a phenomenon that recurs in many of the selected films: the clash between the way Georgians perceive themselves and want to appear modern and the perhaps contradictory way in which others perceive Georgians. By contrast, the skateboarding kids in When the Earth Seems to Be Light seem to represent universal youth culture and yet they are very much trapped in their own region as they drift along, as is illustrated by the abrupt juxtaposition of images of street riots. Clearly, it is not only the Caucasian country's film market that has changed; Georgia has been in upheaval since 1989 and is still seeking its place between the East and the West.
No contemporary trend is spared by the films of the Georgian New Wave, as opposed to Soviet documentary which used a lot of suggestive music and manipulative commentary to ensure that there would be no undesirable political interpretation. Some filmmakers today approach the realm of feature film, for example Nino Kirtadze in Don't Breathe or Rati Oneli in the feature-length debut City of the Sun. Rati Oneli captures the city of Chiatura in western Georgia as it shrinks against a spectacular natural backdrop. Whereas mounds of manganese used to be extracted in the surrounding mountains, today the mine lays almost idle and has left behind what appears like a ghost town. The margins between documentary and fiction are barely decipherable in Vakhtang Jajanidze's Exodus.
When the Earth Seems to Be Light (2015); Directors: Salome Machaidze, Tamuna Karumidze, David Meskhi
For 2+2=22 [The Alphabet], Heinz Emigholz accompanied the German band Kreidler to Tbilisi to film them recording their album. He paid particular attention to the architecture, creating unseen images of the Georgian capital - providing a valuable outsider's perspective.
A panel discussion will complement the Country Focus and contrast two approaches to Georgian cinema: The Western audience's yearning gaze towards eastern Europe and its stories and the sceptical self-reflexion of Georgian filmmakers.
The Country Focus was curated by the filmmaker and producer Zaza Rusadze, who is also a member of DOK Leipzig's Selection Committee. The program was developed in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
The Heinrich Böll Foundation is supporting female Georgian filmmakers through its "Female Gazes from Georgia" program that will be going on tour to four more cities.