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    Review of The Village - shown at the 4th Georgian Film Festival in London

    The Village is a moving film about life and traditions in a small Georgian village in the Caucasus mountains. Staring Crystal Bennett as Amy and Tornika Bziava as Nika. Shown in the UK as part of the 2015 Georgian Film Festival.

    This slow, elegiac film tells us about life and traditions in a remote Georgian Caucasan mountain village through a visit by an ethnographic research team including an English photographer Amy and her Georgian boyfriend Nika, whose uncle lives there. These two have partly tagged along to repair a flagging relationship, but it soon becomes apparent that Amy’s western feisty independence is at odds with Nika’s conservative mind set, which seems to harden as they live amongst his relatives.

    Amy wanders around the village snapping away, oblivious to the clear messages given by her hosts and crosses the invisible lines and traditions that define this place and its community. There is an outlaw that the village seems to be reluctantly sheltering and a mute Widow’s Son who Amy sees as a romantic figure, despite village warnings to leave him alone. Amy asks the questions that we want answers to, yet we also know they should not be asked.

    The scenery is stunning: the village is in a harsh but beautiful landscape where young men still ride horses and people work with nature and not against it. But half the houses are empty a village elder says. We assume younger people move to the cities for an easier life.

    This is a slow movie where the characters and the landscape do the talking, yet it is involving and subtly draws the viewer into another world. There are strong performances from the whole cast and Crystal Bennett (as Amy) cleverly combines a likeable naivety with some dumb insensitivity that opens up the story up for us.

    Amy’s meddling can only end badly we guess and so it does. But as she and the research group leave the village the snows come and nature closes in. We leave the old men behind to their talk and drinking around outdoor log fires and the ancient traditions that bind them and the village together. We know we are going to miss them.

    This is a film that deserves a wider showing than a one off at the Georgian Film Festival in London. We should know more about Georgia, our eastern European neighbour. We should also see more intelligent slow films like this as an antidote to the fast food takeaway fare we are sometimes served.

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    Stephen Vaudrey 

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