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BERLINALE 2014 Forum

Berlinale: Deep characters but a light approach in Blind Dates

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- Levan Koguashvili's follow-up to Street Days manages to be both funny and profound

Berlinale: Deep characters but a light approach in Blind Dates
Levan Koguashvili's Blind Dates

The second feature film by Georgian writer-director Levan Koguashvili, screened in Berlinale's Forum, represents a delicious follow-up to his debut, Street Days. Lighter but no less profound, Blind Dates [+see also:
trailer
interview: Levan Koguashvili
film profile
]
keeps the same kind of wry humour but adds more complexity to the narrative structure.

Sandro (Andro Sakvarelidze) is a 40-year-old schoolteacher living with his parents, whose main preoccupation is the fact that their son is still single. His friend Iva (Archil Kikodze) keeps trying to set him up with women, but Sandro does not feel comfortable in this kind of situation. Instead, he falls in love with hairdresser Manana (Ia Sukhitashvili), the mother of one of his students. But when Manana's husband, Tengo (Vakhtang Chachanidze), is unexpectedly released early from prison, things get complicated for everyone involved, including Manana's employee Natia (Marika Antadze).

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Koguashvili keeps the tone of the film on a low dynamic level, whether the characters are just watching football or are in danger of getting beaten up, arrested or killed. Numerous plot twists keep the proceedings entertaining, while deadpan humour is derived from the straight-faced reactions of actors who deliver their lines with amusing seriousness.

The narrative structure includes a divergence from the storyline in which Sandro is the main character in the second act, with a digression featuring Tengo’s unsuccessful attempt to get a substantial amount of money out of the family of his former cellmate. This part of the film would have been made in the vein of a Scorsese gangster rollercoaster by most directors, but Koguashvili cleverly keeps the tone straight, which makes it all the more entertaining.

Behind the ostensibly light-footed directing approach lies a deeper emotional story of a quiet man of honour and passion who rarely talks, but whose deeds speak volumes about his values. Sakvarelidze's Sandro is one of the most quietly impressive roles in recent Caucasus cinema, and Koguashvili's film has already travelled far from the Black Sea, winning awards at the Abu Dhabi and Palm Springs film festivals; it is also heading to ten more festivals in the near future.

Co-produced by Georgia’s Millimeter Film and Kino Iberika, as well as Ukraine’s Tato Film, Blind Dates is handled internationally by Films Boutique

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