Future Frames Review: Dialect
by Laurence Boyce
- A world in which dialogue is profane is at the centre of David Gurgulia’s mysterious and intriguing short film, screening as part of EFP’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary
While obviously a visual medium, dialogue has become much of the lifeblood of modern cinema. When a film eschews dialogue it can often been seen as gimmicky and forced, yet in David Gurgulia’s Dialect the ambient world created by the film becomes something akin to the spiritual
The film follows Mithras (Giorgi Sharvashidze) as he searches for a quasi-mythical reserve in which the inhabitants only speak the language of God. Arriving at his destination with his recording equipment in tow, Mithras finds himself in a silent community of women, where he is forbidden to speak. As he stays in this community, recording the sounds around him, Mithras soon believes that he has heard the inhabitants speak the secret language of God. But will Mithras be the one who brings this mysterious world out into the open? Or will this world affect him more than he thinks?
Much of Dialect examines the dividing line between the sacred and the profane with Mithras bringing the trappings of modernity into this serene environment. There’s a pointed shot of Mithras’ sunglasses with the reflection of the small hut in which he stays – an mirror of the serene filtered through a symbol of modernity. It’s clear that this intrusion is unwarranted, with Mithras offer of food brought in from the outside world also refused and his later interactions with the two young girls in the retreat treated with fear and suspicion.
Certainly, the film itself punctuates the invasive nature of modernity. The long and careful shots of Mithras making his recordings emphasise the serenity and beauty of his surroundings while the well thought out sound design is unsurprisingly crucial to the film bringing more elements of the natural world to proceedings. In moments when Mithras has to communicate with the outside world, his text messages are displayed across the screen. While this is becoming a bit of modern cliché, here they come across another invasion of the modern world as the words become a visual interference to the silent and beautiful world.
Through some excellent set design and careful composition there’s a certain element of the theatrical and unreal. But this is partly what makes Dialect such an intriguing film as it questions notions of spirituality and what humans consider ‘knowable’.
The film, from the Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film School in Georgia, received its International Premiere as part of European Film Promotion’s Future Frames, at the 2018 edition of Karlovy Vary. With interest in Georgian cinema currently at a high, the film stands a very good chance having more visibility on the festival circuit over the months to come (though it’s relatively long running time may hamper its chance on occasion). Certainly, Gurgulia has marked himself as a director whose future work should be followed with interest.
For more information on Dialect click here.
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