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The Sun of the Sleepless. The film is about a doctor named Gela Bendeliani (Elgudzha Burduli) and his wealthless family in Tbilisi in Soviet Georgia. In the film Gela Bendeliani has an unlimited capacity for generosity and forgiveness.
Pavle, who is a poor cart-driver has two girls, Maro and Tamro. The girls have a dream to take classes at a ballet school, but Pavle cannot afford such a luxury. Vardo, a laundress, decides to help the little girls.
"Giorgobistve", or "Falling Leaves", was director Otar Iosseliani's first feature-length film, following some largely unseen shorts and the now available and very good "Aprili". I would probably rank "Giorgobistve" as one of the better debuts by directors I like. It may not have the lasting power of "Eraserhead" for example, but it is a confident, mostly not seriously flawed, opening film for Iosseliani, and one that serves as a fine introduction to his style of film-making.
One of the most noticeable things about "Giorgobistve" is Iosseliani's use of the camera. The black and white photography by Abessalom Maisuradze is impressive, but it is what Iosseliani himself does, working with his camera operator, that really stands out, giving the film a very kinetic style that sometimes feels as if it stems from fear of keeping the camera still, but here feels perfectly sensible and certainly suits and enhances the film's 'cinema-verite' feel and adds to the realism.
Critics' reviews I have read of "Giorgobistve" point at the film's shift in tone around halfway through as a fault, but I beg to differ. It was a very conscious move by the writer Amiran Chichinadze to reflect the sudden turn from happiness to misery that life in the soviet era could take. Iosseliani captures this beautifully. I'm not sure if any of the acting is actually great, but for the most part it is solid, with Ramaz Giorgobiani as Niko in the lead role being particularly effective.
"Giorgobistve" is perhaps not a great film, and Iosseliani would certainly go on to make better films, but this is a very impressive film regardless.
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