A century-old tree floats slowly on a barge along the coast of the Black Sea. This unprecedented plan, which brings with it as many ecological as migratory questions, comes from the Georgian documentary Taming the Garden (2021), by Salomé Jashi. It recounts the fad of the country’s most powerful oligarch and former politician, which consists of planting trees in his resort garden so old that they are likely to purify the air.
“Bidzina Ivanishvili buys the trees like he bought the voters in 2012, by repaying the loans of 600,000 people to favor Georgian Dream, the pro-Russian party that he created and which he now supports from the outside…”, explains the director, at a café table in Sololaki, the oldest district of Tbilisi. From here, just look up to see another of the billionaire’s residences, commonly referred to as “James Bond’s house,” unless it’s a replica of an international airport. Also visible are the pillars of the cable car which will soon serve its luxury hotel and its golf course.
Presented at Sundance, the Berlinale and the Cinéma du Réel, Taming the Garden embodies the rise of a new wave of Georgian films noted around the world. The multidisciplinary festival Un weekend à l’Est will screen, from November 22 to 27, in Paris, some of these beautiful works: Blackbird, Blackberry , by Elene Naveriani, sensual portrait of an austere grocer who discovers love at the dawn of its 50th birthday; A Room of My Own (2022), by Ioseb “Soso” Bliadze, the shared life of Tina, escaped from the hell of marriage, and of Megi, dreaming of America, filmed during the pandemic, or Under the Sky of Kutaisi (2021), by Aleksandre Koberidze, a tale where banality is literally transfigured in the lights of love.
To bring them together, let’s talk about attention to little things, a taste for fable and strolling, a spirit of independence which governs action and the rejection of a patriarchal society whose rate of feminicides reaches records every year. Above all, a sense of the unusual and the marvelous that one quickly detects while walking along the facades of the 19th century houses, which compete in elegance and fantasy. “On every street corner, you can find a story for cinema,” says director Ioseb “Soso” Bliadze, phosphorescent pink face under the spotlights of the Stamba, a former printing house converted into a five-star hotel, where stray dogs (which we recognize by their municipal electronic chip) are cordially invited to come and rest their paws on the lobby bench.
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