Georgian Cinema: Dreaming at the Crossroads
Screening Dates
  • September 24, 2023 6:00
  • September 26, 2023 6:00
New Restorations

“[One] can’t help but be captivated by the film’s intense atmosphere and harrowing imagery … [Pirosmani’s art] emerges from Shengelaia’s film as the materialization of a unique personality who never compromised his artistic principles.”

Peter Rollberg, Discovering Georgian Cinema

Shengelaia’s austere imagining of the life, times, and places of Georgia’s most famous painter is far from a conventional biopic. It communicates its quasi-ethnographic vision of turn-of-the-century Georgian society in a series of beautifully realized tableaux—some set in the Tbilisi restaurants and taverns that Niko Pirosmani (here played by nonactor Avtandil Varazi) frequented and painted for in exchange for food, drink, and the most basic lodging (he died an impoverished, starving alcoholic in 1918). The head-on perspective and figural grouping of the tableaux imitates compositions favoured by the painter. It’s a work suffused with a pervasive melancholy—Avtandil Varazi’s stubbornly uncompromised Pirosmani gradually grays and stoops while everyone else around him seems to stay the same age” (Nick Pinkerton, Artforum). Varazi, himself a painter, is co-credited with the film’s production design and art direction.

In Georgian with English subtitles

preceded by

Arabesques on the Theme of Pirosmani
არაბესკები ფიროსმანის თემაზე
USSR 1985
Sergei Parajanov
21 min. DCP

Parajanov’s short develops a number of visual themes across a close viewing of Pirosmani’s paintings, emphasizing their tonal contrasts and creating an engaging and mysterious portrait of a bygone Georgia.

No dialogue