I Am Truly a Drop of Sun on Earth: A film that “simply” needs to exist
- Elene Naveriani, a young Georgian director who trained in Switzerland, brings the Solothurn Film Festival a fascinating and radical first film
I Am Truly a Drop of Sun on Earth [+see also:
film profile], Elene Naveriani’s debut film, which is in the running for the Soleure Prize at the Solothurn Film Festival, is a mysterious thing that emanates a venomous and dangerously enthralling beauty. Dressed in a timeless yet universal black and white aesthetic, I Am Truly a Drop of Sun on Earth transports us into a time and place that burns with an inaccessible topicality. A topicality that will rip open your eyes and make your heart swell.
Elene Naveriani is back in her native Georgia, and more specifically in the capital, Tbilisi, which she knows like the back of her hand, to tell us a story of marginality and affection (or at least what’s left of it among the ruins of a city that’s drifting away). April, a prostitute in her early 30s, is released from prison and goes back to her previous life, donning the suit of armour necessary to protect herself from life’s harsh blows. This time fate has decided to throw Dijé into her path, a young Nigerian man who, believing he has arrived in Georgia, USA, finds himself imprisoned in a country that has nothing to offer him but wretchedness. Stigmatised for the colour of his skin, a man living on the margin of the margins, Dijé tries to survive as best he can on poorly paid odd jobs here and there and sleepless nights spent surrounded by other bodies, those of his fellow Nigerians who have run aground like him in the wrong Georgia, who coast along on the only breath of life they have left: music. April and Dijé meet, and clash against one another’s suits of armour until a small and almost invisible chink finally allows their feelings to re-surface, sheepishly and awkwardly, as if hope has become un unfamiliar word to them.
Through I Am Truly a Drop of Sun on Earth Elene Neveriani comes face to face with the melancholy of all those who manage to survive whilst not losing the only thing that allows them to keep their heads held high: their humanity. The huge effort of the director to win the trust of her actors (who play themselves) runs through the entire film as an integral part of the filmmaking process. With the distance necessary to prevent herself from being swallowed up by sentimentalism and give the audience the space to breathe and reflect, Elene brings her characters to life more through the weight of their bodies and the light in their evasive and penetrating gazes than through dangerous psychological probing. In this respect, the temporal uncertainty created by the black and white images: portraying the past, present and future all at the same time, binds itself to the bodies of the characters like a second skin. The director transforms herself into a choreographer that is careful to retransmit the intentions of the people and characters that inhabit her film faithfully. The way they walk down the street: April’s light-footed step and the restlessness of Dijé’s taut muscles, tell us a lot more about them than much of the dialogue. The very personal way that Elene Naveriani has of approaching reality gives her film a venomous power that seems to compress all the melancholy and shattered dreams of her protagonists into it. Beauty in misery, this is what she brings her mother country. And she does so with the clarity of mind and formal audacity we’d like to see from many artists.
I Am Truly a Drop of Sun on Earth is produced and being distributed in Switzerland by Geneva-based company Alva Film.
(Translated from Italian)
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