Tuesday 9 June 2015

Sydney Film Festival (25) - Rod Bishop reports on Corn Island (George Ovashvili, Georgia, 2014)

On the border of Georgia and Abkhazia lies the Engui River where a seasonal inundation creates fertile islands used by the locals to grow crops before the river rises again to reclaim the soil. An Old Man and a Girl erect a makeshift hut, plough the soil, plant corn and await the harvest. They listen anxiously to gunfire between the Georgians and Abkhazia secessionists on the river’s banks, warily nodding at soldiers passing in tinnies and eventually harbouring one of the wounded. Corn Island is an accomplished and exquisite work, made all the more visually impressive by its 35mm shooting stock and rendered with minimal dialogue. A little reminiscent of the humanism in Zaza Urushadze’s Tangerines, aka Mandariinid (2013) - also from Georgia - but the major stylistic influence is probably Carl T. Dreyer. And like Dreyer, it’s hard to fault anything you see on screen or hear in the naturalistic, nuanced soundtrack. I haven’t seen George Ovashvili’s first film The Other Bank (2009), but I’ll certainly be searching it out. Second screening on Friday 12th, 6pm at Event Cinemas.

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