THE FIRST feature film In Bloom (Sodankylä in 2014) of the Georgian-German filmmaker couple presently using the stage name Nana & Simon – Nana Ekvitimishvili & Simon Gross – was a charming coming of age description of two fourteen-year-old girls in the Georgia of the early 1990s crises. The duo’s next film, ironically titled My Happy Family (Chemi bednieri ojakhi), tells a today’s story of a 52-year old woman called Manana, who teaches Georgian at school, at the crossroads of her life.
Besides at school and in the streets and markets of Tbilisi, we see Manana in two different apartments: one is the home inhabited by her lively extended family – her husband Soso, her parents-in-law, son, daughter and her husband – the other is a rental flat in a less salubrious working-class quarter where instead of subordination and serving others Manana could devote herself to enjoying food and tea, guitar playing and singing, or listening in peace to the sounds of the wind and the birds outside an open window.
My Happy Family is a quietly winning depiction of a determined woman’s emancipation from the chains of a patriarchal marriage and family life. Nana & Simon do not, however, make a movie with a message. Instead they wisely leave much of the background open, motives unsaid. When they used In Bloom the cinematographer the Rumanian Cristian Mungiu used in his previous film, now it is Tudor Vladimir Padru’s of the Bacalaureat fame turn to subtly record the atmospheric milieus of Tbilisi. (TM)
NANA EKVTIMISHVILI (born 1978) of the filmmaker duo Nana & Simon was born in Tbilisi, but studied screenwriting at the HFF Potsdam-Babelsberg in Germany. Before her first feature-length film In Bloom (2013) she directed a couple of short films, of which The Lost Mainland (2008) already was a German-Georgian co-operation. Ekvtimishvili wrote the script for In Bloom alone, but had as a partnering director the more experienced German SIMON GROSS (born 1976). Gross has studied at the HFF Munich and made his first feature film Fata Morgana in 2007 – with Ekvtimishvili as one scriptwriter – where a German tourist couple finds themselves involved in a nightmare in Morocco. Already in In Bloom the duo’s co-operation bore exceptionally good fruit for a supranational production.