Gogita's New Life: An impatient search for a home and a wife
by Vladan Petkovic
- Levan Koguashvili's new documentary, screened at Sofia, puts to use all of his trademark qualities: humour, simplicity and humanness
Georgian filmmaker Levan Koguashvili is known for two feature films, both warmly received by festivals, critics and audiences alike: Street Days (2010) and Blind Dates [+see also:
interview: Levan Koguashvili
film profile] (2013), which won awards at festivals in Palm Springs, Lecce, Sofia, Wiesbaden and Zagreb, after world-premiering at Rotterdam and Berlin, respectively. But his first film, Women from Georgia, was a documentary, and now he returns with another feature-length doc, Gogita's New Life, which world-premiered at the IDFA. Cineuropa caught it at the Sofia International Film Festival.
Gogita is a 39-year-old man from rural Georgia. The film starts with him returning to his mother's house after being released from a 14-year stretch in prison. He works at his mother's farm and takes on odd jobs in the surrounding area. Aware that he has lost a great deal of time and eager to get on with his life, he starts building a new house and looking for a wife, in a manner that is obviously too expectant.
Soon, on Facebook, he discovers Maka, a woman his age, who bakes cakes for a living, which is evident in her looks – Gogita's mother calls her "fleshy". But this is, at least at the start, not a dealbreaker for this sinewy guy with a few teeth missing. He persuades Maka to meet him at the seaside so they can spend some time together. But once there, Gogita changes his mind and Maka runs off, fuming. After spending some time comically trying to approach other women, Gogita changes his mind again, and begs Maka to give him another chance.
As in his fiction films, Koguashvili approaches his characters with sympathy and a healthy sense of humour. He does not only follow Gogita, but makes sure to catch some of Maka's side of the story as well, and when he shows her working out in order to lose weight, there is not a touch of malice in it, however funny the scenes are. The filmmaker's view of cinema is primarily humane, and this is the most obvious quality of his new documentary as well, which definitely brings to mind the sweet but not saccharine romantic adventures of Blind Dates. Even the coastal locations in both films are very similar, albeit shot in different places on the Black Sea, with rusty remnants of old amusement-park attractions lying scattered around on stony beaches. And in line with Koguashvili's aesthetics, in Gogita's New Life there is also a slight but clearly detectable tart hint of everyday reality underlining the story.
Gogita's New Life is a co-production by Georgia's Kino Iberica, Tatofilm and Georgian Public Television, Russia's Moskvich, Ukraine's MDR and Croatia's Embrio Production. German firm Deckert Distribution has the international rights.