Elene Naveriani, maverick of Georgian cinema

Elene Naveriani, maverick of Georgian cinema

Movies

Visiting Paris at the end of November, on the occasion of the Un weekend à l’Est festival, Elene Naveriani, a 38-year-old Georgian filmmaker based in Geneva, meets near the Luxembourg Gardens. Presented last May at the Filmmakers’ Fortnight, Blackbird, Blackberry is imbued with a sculptural eroticism of great beauty without coquetry or extra words. Adapted from the eponymous novel (in French, Merle, merle, mature, Tropismes, 250 pages, 22 euros) by Tamta Mélachvili, Georgian writer and feminist activist, this third feature film delivers the sensual portrait of Ethéro, a gruff grocer who discovers love and sexuality at the dawn of his 50th birthday in the arms of a delivery man his age.

“Ethéro is an instinctive feminist who learned nothing from books ,” describes the director, inspired by the radicality of her character who ultimately only seems to seek gentleness beneath her rusticity. She values her independence even if she is the subject of gossip from her friends, who call her an old maid. I think this toxicity and this kind of spat between relatives is characteristic of the Georgian identity. »

The director’s almost monastic appearance, shaved head and long black coat, gradually gives way to a cheerfulness tinged with humor. Its fine rat tail, which comes and goes on its high collar, instantly propels us into the 1990s. From that time, Elene Naveriani keeps the memory of a “glistening” childhood despite the economic and social disarray in which was Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Feminist and queer theories

Daughter of an orientalist philologist and a ski instructor, she grew up in Didube, an industrial district of Tbilisi dotted with small factories producing bread, chocolates and lemonade… “The country did not have enough electrical resources to exist independently of Russia. But, with the arrival of capitalism, the Coca-Cola factory was established right across the street from us, it was the only place in town with a decent electricity supply, which allowed us to connect to it. I can still see the red Coca-Cola trucks passing by, shining brightly…”

In 2008, when the Russo-Georgian war breaks out between Georgia and its separatist province of South Ossetia then continues with Abkhazia, Elene Naveriani, 23 years old, a graduate in painting from the State Academy of Tbilisi, decides to go abroad. “Switzerland was good, no need to present a language certificate. I had just enough money to take out a loan. » In 2011, she obtained a master’s degree in critical cybermedia curatorial studies, then, in 2014, her bachelor’s degree in cinema at the Haute Ecole d’art et de design (HEAD) in Geneva. Enough to encourage him to bring disciplines into dialogue through the prism of feminist and queer theories from his first feature films ( I Am Truly a Drop of Sun on Earth , 2017, then Wet Sand , 2021).

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