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SARAJEVO 2014 Competition

I am Beso: abandonment in an open-air prison


- The world premiere of Lasha Tskvitinidze’s feature debut has brought the official competition to a close at the 20th Sarajevo Film Festival; the winner will be unveiled tomorrow

I am Beso: abandonment in an open-air prison

This morning, the world premiere of I am Beso, the feature debut by Georgian director Lasha Tskvitinidze, who took part in the Talent Campus in Berlin and Sarajevo in 2012, had the task of wrapping up the official competition of the 20th Sarajevo Film Festival.

Beso is a 14-year-old boy who lives in a half-deserted town. His father, a victim of the Chernobyl disaster, spends his days watching television, drinking, and letting out screams and shouts in the house. His mother, meanwhile, is the main breadwinner in the family. His brother Leri is gay and gives one-to-one belly-dancing lessons in his bedroom. Beso’s only friend is Beka, a schoolmate he goes out and about with to make mischief, sniff petrol or try to hook up with girls – that is, when they’re not running away from two other pupils at the school who harass them constantly.

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The director told Cineuropa that his screenplay was inspired by a rap song that shares the film’s title, which an amateur shared on YouTube. Tskvitinidze added: “Luckily, I had enough time to do an in-depth search for my cast. I’ve always worked with non-professional actors. When I give them the script, I don’t ask them to learn the lines by heart, but rather I want them to embrace the meaning of the lines and then improvise.”

And so Tskvitinidze’s camera presents this reality of deepest Georgia, following Beso’s footsteps from a fair distance, but never using close-ups on his face, letting the surroundings – which are often bathed in sunlight – reveal all their silence and their lack of solutions in lingering shots, as if it were all an open-air prison perhaps inhabited by Beso and many others. Furthermore, all of the social relationships in this prison, including the one that exists between the two buddies, are not so much relationships of friendship or tension, but rather ones of outright competition or conflict. The ways out of such an oppressive and hopeless reality are embodied by each of the brothers: Beso dreams of being a successful rapper, and when Leri runs away with the man he loves, things don’t look so rosy. For his part, the father – who is never more excited than when he challenges his son to do press-ups in order for him to get stronger, and only in this way be able to get married, just like he did – goes to show that it is also adults who have no idea about a plausible future.

(Translated from Spanish)

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