Latest Review – Corn Island [Simindis kundzuli] [LFF] [Dare Strand]

Corn Island [Simindis kundzuli] 

Director: George Ovashvili

Studio: 42film

Distributor: TBC

Year: 2014

Country: Georgia | Germany | France | Czech Republic | Kazakhstan | Hungary

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 100 minutes (1:40:21)

Certificate: 15

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Image: Colour

Sound Mix: Dolby SR

Language: Georgian | Abkhazian | Russian

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dare

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A deserved winner of the Crystal Globe (for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema) – the main prize at Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival earlier this year – this second feature film from the acclaimed Georgian filmmaker, George Ovashvili, unfolds entirely against the serene backdrop of the Inguri River to depict its naturalistic, contemplative and increasingly elegiac study of the relationship between an elderly man and his teenage granddaughter.

Told with virtually no dialogue whatsoever, staged with prodigious skill and attention to detail and extremely minimalist in its composition, the film relies almost entirely on atmosphere, symbolic visual metaphors and the faces and intense expressions of its highly accomplished central pairing (the experienced, Ilyas Salman and newcomer, Mariam Buturishvili) to reveal all the various characteristics and levels required to effectively convey its central narrative.

On one of the many islands formed annually during the spring floods – somewhere on the natural river boundary between Georgia and Abkhazia – a world-weary old peasant and his young granddaughter work tirelessly building a temporary wooden shelter, tilling the soil and generally cultivating the land on their small island home in order to harvest a crop of corn.

On the surface it is essentially a dual examination of man and nature, and the silent bond between granddaughter and grandfather, however Ovashvili ensures that there is a subtle psychological depth constantly underlining the central tale. Periodic visits from Georgian and Abkhazian border-patrol boats cleverly instil a very effective sense of hostility and apprehension, emphasising (and perhaps recalling) the as yet unresolved ethnic conflict which initially arose between the two following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Cinematographer Elemér Ragályi works wonders with the camera and constantly delivers images of breathtaking aesthetic quality, fluidity and clarity, further enhancing the beauty and enigmatic quality of this isolated rural landscape, all the while accompanied by a beautifully melancholic orchestral score from composer, Iosif Bardanashvili.

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