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International Programme 2014
The Ruler Shalva Shengeli

A village in Georgia, a nunnery and a statue of Stalin. Should it make way for the nuns or will it be allowed to remain standing? Murderer, opponent of religion or good old father Stalin? An absurd comedy.

The Ruler

Documentary Film
53 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Nino Chutkerashvili
Shalva Shengeli
Zurab Javakhia
Giorgi Sigua
Beka Gersamia
Shalva Shengeli, Nino Chutkerashvili
Paata Godziashvili
Stalin and the church? In the Georgian village of Tsromi, he is standing about in front of it. It’s true, his aura is flaking, his right hand and his former empire are gone and his eyes only roam over the cows and geese on the dusty village street – but then again, people left him alone for half a century. Until the day a convent claims not only the former house of culture but the church and its yard, and Stalin is to be removed. Emotions are running high: can you expect the nuns to practically share a roof with a man who fought an acrimonious battle against religion? But wasn’t the kolkhoz named after him and wasn’t everything better then? Was he a murderer? Didn’t all the village girls fall in love with him when he visited Tsromi once? Is it time to do penance – or wouldn’t a dance club be better than a convent?
Shalva Shengeli circles a myth in picturesque images and with the absurd humour of Georgian comedies. In the realm of “homo sovieticus”, where “leaders” were glorified as religious figures of light, where pictures of Stalin are put next to icons today and the orthodox Church recently published a Stalin calendar, he asks how people deal with the past when the present doesn’t look too rosy. Father Stalin in the meantime gets a new hand to show his people the way …
Grit Lemke