A new film portraying a Georgian farm family shattered by Bolshevik terror 75 years ago has emerged from the modern-day chaos of the former Soviet republic to be screened at the Berlin Film Festival.
"Rchelyi (The Beloved)," filmed despite financing and supply problems, is one of 25 feature films - two from the former Soviet Union - eligible for awards announced at the close of the prestigious festival Monday.Director Michail Kalatosishvili said his film's release had been blocked by former Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, elected after communist rule dissolved in 1991 but ousted by rebels.
Making "Rchelyi" was a feat in Georgia, the mountainous republic racked by civil war and economic collapse since the disintegration of the central Soviet government.
"The film cost much more than we planned, somewhat over 500,000 rubles ($7,150 at current exchange rates). We constantly struggled with a lack of money and materials for shooting," Kalatosishvili recalled.
"Not many people want to invest money in films in our country now because the people are going hungry. We have much more urgent material needs."
But he said he pursued the film partly to draw parallels between earlier Bolshevik terror campaigns, aimed at crushing outlying resistance to the Russian Revolution directed from Moscow, and Gamsakhurdia's tenure.
Loosely adapted from Prosper Merimee's 1829 Corsican novella, "Mateo Falcone," the film is set during the time of civil war between Reds and Whites that followed the 1917 Revolution and spilled over into Georgia.
A Georgian farmer, Dshuna, lives a simple patriarchal and God-fearing life with his wife and 11-year-old son Gega.
When he brings his yearly offering of homemade candles to the nearby provincial city, he sees fanatical Red troops slaughtering "enemies of the people," plundering and destroying their homes and any other symbol of the past.
Later, while Dshuna and his wife are away from the farm on a day trip, their son hides a wounded White officer on the run. Bolshevik forces appear and a cynical officer persuades Gega to betray the man in exchange for her new revolver.
Dshuna returns, hears what Gega has done and kills him with a rifle shot according to archaic law.