FNE at Berlinale 2013: Forum: In Bloom

    FNE at Berlinale 2013: Forum: In Bloom In Bloom, director Nana Ekvtimishvili

    BERLIN: In Bloom, a debut by Georgian scriptwriter and director Nana Ekvtimishvili and co-directed by German Simon Gross, is another Georgian flower that has bloomed from the carefully nurtured garden planted by the Georgian National Film Centre over the past few years. A first time director, Ekvtimishvili has come up with a winning combination that continues the traditions of Georgian films while at the same time being very much part of contemporary European art-house cinema.

    Natia and Eka are two 13-year-old school girls coming of age in the chaos of post-Soviet Tbilisi in 1992.  Despite the chaotic conditions the two girls manage to face life with life with optimism, and courage.

    The film is based on Ekvtimishvili’s own memories of growing up in the early 1990s in Georgia.  The Soviet Union has disappeared and Georgia struggles to find its feet economically and socially with a civil war in Abkhazia and jobless young Georgian men going off to Moscow to find work.

    Set against this historically dramatic period the director weaves a story of two young girls coming of age.  Eka played by Lika Babluani and Natia her friend played by Mariam Bokeria share the secrets of growing up as teenage best friends so. We see them at school, at home and maturing through the rituals of growing up.  Their home lives are very different with Eka living with her mother in a book filled flat waiting for the return of her father who is in jail and Natia her more precocious friend living with her alcoholic father and her angry disappointed mother.

    Natia as the prettiest girl in the class has already attracted two admirers, the handsome Lado, played by Data Zakareishvili, and Kote played by Zurab Gogaladze.  When Lado goes off to Moscow to earn money he gives Natia a gun with just one bullet for her protection while he is away.

    This sets up a thread in the story as the girls keep the gun a secret between themselves and it pops up through the rest of the story.   Despite the hard times and chaos around them Eka and Natia share good times together singing and doing the things teenage girls everywhere do.  The film is filled with a spirit and warmth that makes it enriching to watch.  The casting of the two girls was perhaps the best choice of the director as both are charming and turn in excellent performances.

    Especially good is a scene where Eka dances at a wedding in one long single shot.  The camera work by Romanian Oleg Mutu who seems to be much in demand across Europe after his work with Cristian Mungiu and Cristi Puiu is one of the strongest parts of the film.

    It might be too soon to start to call this a “Georgian New Wave” but with a few more films like this is it cannot be far away.

    Directors: Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Gross
    Georgia, Germany, France 2013
    Cast: Lika Babluani, Mariam Bokeria

    Supported by Georgian National Film Center
    Production:  Indiz Films (Germany), Polare Film (Georgia) and Arizona Films (France) Memento: International Sales.