This week, the Swedish theatrical release for one of the more talked-about films in the past year, the Georgian-Estonian war drama “Mandarin farmer”. The action takes place in 1992 during the war in Abkhazia in western Georgia, and the film was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe.
In Abkhazia in western Georgia there were then long time, remarkably enough villages with Estonian population. After a bloody civil war broke out in the area in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR in the early 90′s escaped many of the villagers to Estonia.
In the movie “Mandarin Grower” is just the aged Ivo and his neighbor Margus left in the village. They can not bring himself to abandon the mandarin harvest which is one of the best ever. But the war is knocking on and soon they had to bury soldiers killed in their gardens and nurture the survivors in Ivo’s house.
The Georgian director Zaza Urushadze has built up a multi-cultural world in which the Estonians in the village meets Chechen mercenaries fighting on abchasernas side, Georgian and Abkhazian units in search of the enemy, and Russian soldiers who do not seem to have a clue about what they have to do in the bloody conflict. Everyone speaks their language among themselves and Russian to each other. Forget any ideas about international co-productions will always be without identity concoction. Both the Estonian and Georgian film is among the most promising film industries in the former Soviet Union, and this collaboration is dynamite.
When the wounded soldiers who wakes up in Ivo’s house discovers they are enemies of developed film to a light touch on the ancient tragedy of fate. While managing Urushadze in every moment to keep the uncertainty of what will happen in the next scene. The environments in the Caucasian mountains is both gritty and beautiful, the acting is brilliant. Best of all, the film captures how little it is that distinguishes the different ethnic groups, although they are expected to hate and kill each other. And in the end, no one can explain to someone else or themselves what they are actually fighting for.
fredrik.wadstrom @ sverigesradio.se