City of the Sun (Mzis Qalaqi)
New Voices in Cinema
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Imagined as a city of the future during the Soviet era, the once-celebrated manganese-mining town of Chiatura in Georgia is now all but abandoned, crumbling around those who still inhabit it. The film’s title is perhaps ironic – this is no Disneyland, the famed network of cable cars notwithstanding. And yet, as anywhere, people live their lives and go about their daily business. There is joy here, and there are the usual challenges.
Zurab is a music teacher by day; he spends his spare time dismantling – with his hands and a sledgehammer, mind you – disused and decaying concrete silos, in order to sell the rebar as scrap metal. Archil works in the still-operational mines, but he has fallen in love with the theatre and wonders whether he would be better off quitting his job to spend more time acting. And two young sisters, living in malnourished poverty, train for the Olympics, their daily runs cheered on by supportive fellow citizens.
Rati Oneli’s ‘City of the Sun’ takes us on a languourous tour of this place of faded glory, building a portrait of a city and its people that is comfortably familiar at the same time that it verges on otherwordly.