Tangerines movie poster (image from Wikipedia)
Language: Russian and Estonian with (teeny-tiny) English subtitles
Availability: available on DVD and Amazon streaming in the US
This film was produced in a collaboration between Estonian and Georgian filmmakers and actors. It was Estonia’s nominee for the Academy Award, and made it to the short list, though it did not win. “Tangerines” is a lovely movie about older Estonian men who don’t want to leave their homes in Abkhazia (each for their own reasons), despite the escalating violence. They come across a wounded Georgian soldier and a wounded Chechen mercenary, and take them in, and the film follows the political, ethnic, and inter-personal relationships and tensions that follow. This film was purposefully very multi-ethnic and multi-lingual. The characters ultimately learn to move past their ethnic differences and prejudices to help each other in an extreme situation. As one would expect in a film about war, there is violence and sadness, but my overall feelings toward the film were positive. The only thing I didn’t like about the film was the teeny-tiny subtitles (on the edition I rented from Netflix, at least)…I had just been to the eye doctor, who cleared my vision as good, and I really had to squint to read these. I had an advantage over others, though, as I can understand the Russian part, at least! (My Estonian however, is non-existent).
In Bloom (Image from Wikipedia)
In Bloom (გრძელი ნათელი დღეები)
Language: Georgian with English subtitles
Availability: available on DVD in the US, scheduled as part of the “Discovering Georgian Cinema” series in Washington DC: info here
This was the Georgian movie that everyone was talking about last year, but I just recently watched it for the first time. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, though I still thought it was good, I had just heard so much hype that nothing could live up to it. The beginning of the movie made me smile because of just how realistic it was–despite the passage of 20+ years and vastly different political and economic conditions than those in the movie (it’s set in 1992), the day-to-day conversations were word-for-word what I have often heard amongst my friends, co-workers, and host family. The story is quite good, and the main characters are very believable and relatable (and portrayed by very talented young actresses). The ending, however, was unsatisfying, and one of my viewing companions compared it (unfavorably) to “one of those weird French movies from the 70s”.
The English title “In Bloom” is not a direct translation of the Georgian title “გრძელი ნათელი დღეები” (grdzeli nateli dgheebi), which means “Long, Light Days” and is also a play on one of the main characters’ name: Natela (Natia). To me, the Georgian title better suits the film: it captures the feeling of reminiscing about teenage days. Even though some of the situations and events in the film were rather dire, the characters lived their lives, and found joy in them. Despite the dark subject matter, there was a sense of lightness and hope throughout.
“In Bloom” is certainly worth watching, but personally, I preferred Since Otar Left for a view of Georgia in the 90s, and Tbilisi I Love You to represent Georgia today and its recent history.