Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tbilisi Film Festival

Through some bizarre confluence of events, mostly involving a last-minute call to my manic actor friend Tornike (whom I last met in September, when he was subsisting on a diet of sour cream of a film role), I ended up at the opening gala of the Tbilisi Film Festival, photographed by paparazzi, and otherwise in the thick of the international cinema scene.

I spent most of the opening gala people-watching, coming at last to the conclusion that the Georgian women in attendance - actresses, filmmakers, and cineastes of all descriptions - were the single best-dressed, most stunning group of women I'd ever seen. The event was by no means black tie; instead, the dress code for women resembled something out of a nineteenth-century Baudelarean androgynous fever dream: a combination of tailored androgynous suits (black, naturally), shorn hair or, in one case, shaved heads, and dramatic Garbo-esque makeup!
A much more muted variation on the theme - but the only photograph I could find.

In attendance were Maryam D'Abo (of Bond Girl fame), Greta Scacchi (I believe - she's giving a talk this week), and journalist Marie Colvin (who was also on my flight) as well as the director of the opening night's film (Chantrapas), Georgian screen legend Otar Iosseliani, who refused to allow the interpreter to translate his speech into English, deplored the festival's requirement for subtitles, and announced that, in contravention of requirements, he had banned the use of subtitles from the scene (lest they distort the unity of his vision), relegating them instead to a tiny additional screen shoehorned into the bottom right hand corner of the stage. "You don't need subtitles," he allowed the interpreter, at last, to explain. "I made this film for the people of my country." This I have decided is an Excellent Thing, because I have a weakness for eccentricity, especially when it comes from  elderly gentlemen who could almost be parrot-keeping violinists.

The film, I'm afraid, didn't move me - I got the sense the audience collectively felt that Iosseliani was at once a genius to be revered and an artist past his prime; the film succeeded, if it did so, on his past work. Tornike meanwhile had dashed off post-gala for a meeting, but by half past eleven my energies failed me, and I neglected to meet him after the show, instead collapsing in my Florentine bedroom.

Today was spent indoors reading Hegel, working on writing projects, and otherwise cursing my inability to wander (a brief excursion for Georgian salad and kuchmachi aside) due to overwork. I've got plenty of plans this week, however - from more festival films to a Dry Bridge antique market run to a trip to the baths.
 (I'm the blond blur in the back, second from right)

Recent Tbilisi Images: "L'Amour est un oiseau rebelle" from Carmen echoing from the Iranian teahouse, a newly-erected, utterly mad art nouveau clock tower on Shavteli street, sitting outdoors at a coffee truck/cafe by the Philharmonic with newfound friends in December (take that, England!),  the ability to see Metekhi Church from my window.

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