Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Taking a film road trip to Georgia

Honorary Consul of Georgia
Thelmo Cunanan, Jr.

One can have a glimpse of one’s country and culture through film and that is what exactly I’ve had in regards to Georgia at the 4th Georgian Film Roadshow presented by the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Honorary Consulate of Georgia in the Philippines.

Three feature length films, each preceded by a different short film, were screened for a whole day at the FDCP's Cinematheque in Manila with the evening screening of The Guardian/Bolo Gaseirneba presented by the Thelmo Cunanan, Jr., the Honorary Consul of Georgia in the Philippines.

Prior to the screening of the film, Cunanan gave the audience a brief introduction to Georgia, a former Soviet State in the Caucasus region that is right smack between Europe and Asia. He mentioned that this country, despite its small size, is rich in culture especially in the fields of film, music, and dance.

I admit that my only knowledge of Georgian culture consists of Sukhishvili - Georgian National Ballet and the country’s folk dances characterized by intense machismo and athleticism. So I anticipated my first ever taste of Georgian cinema.

Screened first was the short feature As If There was a Sea/Titkos ak iyo zghva by Levan Sikharulidze. This 13 minute film focuses on a young couple living in isolation right beside a railroad track. It is unknown what made these two seek this place with only a huge factory looming in the background and a constant stream of noisy trains passing by. But they seek to break the monotony of their existence by attempting to bring the sea to them. In such a bleak landscape, the seemingly simple payoff felt grander than it is.

The Guardian/Bolo Gaseirneba

The main feature of the evening, The Guardian/Bolo Gaseirneba, directed by Zaza Urushadze, tells the story of Gogliko (Misha Meshki) who returns to a life of freedom after 16 years in jail. But his attempt to find his place hits the wall when he realizes that his country has changed a lot over the years. With most of his friends already dead due to the civil war, he decides to take care of Luka (Tazo Tskhakaia), the teenage son of his friend Gio who was also a casualty in the said conflict.

In his quest to be a father figure, Gogliko concerns himself with Luka's daily life and it is through this that the contrast between the two was evident. Gogliko is childlike and has a happy go lucky attitude which is odd since those who usually served jail sentences are portrayed as scarred and hardened. On the other hand, Luka is a model student and is popular among his peers.

Goglinko later finds out that the Luka's object of affection, Tika (Tina Dalakishvili) is the daughter of a parliament member who is responsible for Gio's death. And this spurs him to ensure that the young couple's love remains untainted by the past that he has spent 16 years in jail for.

Gogliko's actions regarding Luka and Tika's relationship felt like the old guard paving the way for the future generation to move forward not encumbered by the bloody conflict that happened years ago. This made me more curious to know more about the history of Georgia especially before and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union which I think is key in appreciating this film more.

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