War’s side effects
June 22 2014 02:37 AM

MIRROR: A still from In Bloom. The film tells a powerful story of two 14-year-old girls, Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria), living through the oppressive familial and societal pressures.

In Bloom, a Georgian drama, has shown the more immediate

yet hidden casualties of armed conflict. By Umer Nangiana

When war strikes, all kinds of evil raise heads. No need to name them out, you just think of any. They are just too visible. They flourish in the subsequent chaos and insecurity.

Keeping the more apparent horrors of conflict off-screen in the backdrop, the makers of In Bloom, a Georgian drama from 2013, have shown the more immediate yet hidden casualties of war.

Lost childhood for an entire generation and a society growing insensitive to brazen injustices are the two most horrifying consequences of any conflict that breeds lawlessness. Not everybody but only the victims might see them but they are a done thing.

Set in the early ’90s Tbilisi, capital of the newly independent Georgia after the disintegration of Soviet Union, Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross’s In Bloom revolves around the idea of insecurity and all other evils taking birth from this child of lawless violence.

A major discovery of the 2013 Berlinale, the film tells a powerful story of two 14-year-old girls, Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria), living through the oppressive familial and societal pressures. Sometimes they submit, only to rebel later and vice versa.

Loosely based on debut writer and co-director Nana Ekvtimishvili’s childhood memories, In Bloom, has the rich texture of authentic experience.

The country is facing violence, as civil war rages in the provinces and an armed struggle continues on the Black Sea coast (Abkhazia) amid vigilante justice back in the streets of the town. The film uses symbolism, perfectly blended into the storyline.

A pistol gifted to Natia by her beau to fend off bullies changes hands between the two inseparable friends at different occasions during the drama according to their respective needs. The weapon has a pivotal position in the story of the girls. Through the experiences of Eka and Natia in a war-trodden Tbilisi, the makers of In Bloom have masterfully highlighted the social maladies of a society faced with conflict.

For the two friends, life unfolds out in the streets where they meet and experience male dominance just too early in their lives. When Natia seemingly submits to a forced early marriage and a disenchanted love affair, Eka is frustrated. While openly cursing the society’s insensitive demeanour, the girl also tries to instigate and keep the rebellious streak alive in her friend.

“Their childhood in the run-down but still beautiful city has come to an abrupt halt, as insecurity and fear of what the future might bring hold sway in everyday life,” says the synopsis of the film.

The introverted Eka lives in a book-filled apartment with her dismissive, boy-crazy elder sister and her preoccupied single-parent mother; precocious Natia lives in the chaotic atmosphere of a cramped apartment with her extended working-class family, dominated by her alcoholic father. But like most schoolgirls, Eka and Natia are far more concerned with life outside, classroom gossip, music, and exercising their budding sexual power over the local boys. Indeed as the class beauty, Natia has already attracted not only the attention of handsome Lado but also local thug Kote, who is not going to tolerate rivals without a fight. In comes the pistol.

Lado has gifted it to Natia as means to protect herself from the likes of Kote.

As the weapon enters the life of the two girls and tests their relationship, each of them deals with different situations of insecurity in a different way. The presence and absence of the weapon in their respective lives at different points underscores the idea of security.

This gripping and profoundly moving film was awarded both the Best Film and FIPRESCI prizes of the 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival. The film premiered at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, winning the CICAE Prize.

It was selected as the Georgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.

Like the very nature of conflict and its effects, the film is unpredictable yet very compelling. In Bloom was screened by Doha Film Institute (DFI) at Katara Drama Theatre last week as part of Georgian movie showcase.




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