A tree grows within the backyard. It’s sturdy and its roots attain into the underworld. The branches unfold into the heavens; the tree itself is a channel of communication, a ladder between the 2 realms. So goes a Georgian fable about how the universe is structured. However now bushes have been moved from Georgian houses into the backyard of a billionaire. Does it disrupt a convention, a narrative, an allegory? Sure, it does.
In 2020, Georgia’s former prime minister and the nation’s solely billionaire, Bidzina Ivanishvili, opened almost 150 acres of his personal land to the general public within the type of Shekvetili Dendrological Park in western Georgia. The park’s most outstanding side is its transplanted magnolias, oaks, eucalyptuses, and linden bushes. They have been introduced right here from villages alongside the coast of the Black Sea, the place low-income residents offered the century-old bushes, typically to repay financial institution money owed and make ends meet. These troublesome decisions left literal holes within the village’s topography and reminiscence. Impartial Georgian filmmaker Salomé Jashi documented components of this course of in her 2021 movie Taming the Garden.
The movie is a meditation on fidelity, change led to by the desire and wealth of 1 individual, and complicated ecosystems eroding within the face of financial challenges, but additionally about migration and rootlessness. The movie presents lyrical photos interspersed with interviews with the folks concerned within the sale of the bushes. Transferring far past native and regional politics, Jashi interprets the narrative right into a common story. The movie has acquired extensive acclaim internationally. It premiered at Sundance Pageant and was introduced at Berlin Worldwide Movie Pageant in addition to Locarno and Saó Paolo movie festivals. But it has been met with opposition in Georgia. It was attacked on political grounds and banned from the cinemas. This previous June, Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream get together, voiced his concern that it misrepresents Georgia to the world and embarrasses the nation.
In 2022 Jashi reached out to her viewers by way of her Fb web page and requested for impartial areas to display screen the movie since main cinemas wouldn’t. Over 2000 folks have attended these screenings. Apparently, an imposing tree shifting throughout the Black Sea is just too threatening for the present right-leaning authorities, which has opposed sanctioning Russia within the wake of the Ukraine battle. With lush, sweeping photos that present the bushes’ transplantation, Taming the Backyard facilities the uprooting of nature by a billionaire who made his fortune within the murky waters of Nineteen Nineties Russia. The movie’s impression comes from making an attempt to think about a distinct ending or envisioning change towards the forces of wealth and energy.
Taming the Garden screens on the College of California Berkeley Artwork Museum and Pacific Movie Archive (2155 Heart Avenue, Berkeley, California) on September 14, as a part of the movie collection Georgian Filmmaker Salomé Jashi in Particular person.