Berlinale to Showcase Salomé Jashi's Documentary 'Taming the Garden'

Georgian film director Salomé Jashi’s poetic documentary 'Taming the Garden' will be screened at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) this summer.

Due to the global health crisis, the Berlinale has designed a new festival format for its 71st edition, organizing two separate events: one for industry professionals and one for cinema enthusiasts.

The European Film Market, Berlinale Co-Production Market, Berlinale Talents and the World Cinema Fund will kick off the festival in March in an online format. In June, there will be a summer event with film screenings for the public, both in cinemas and outdoors. 

Jashi’s oeuvre has been lauded at the Sundance Film Festival for its ”astonishing cinematic style”.

“Humanity’s desire to control the natural world is taken to extreme lengths in 'Taming The Garden.' Salome Jashi’s quietly absorbing documentary charts the systematic uprooting and transportation of ancient trees from small communities in rural Georgia to the private gardens of a wealthy individual. The clash between poverty and privilege is one of several intriguing elements in a film where the offbeat subject matter and striking imagery make an entrancing combination”, reads the Sundance review.

Jashi’s film conveys the artistic value of a timeless aesthetic experience, of the illuminating moments both in and out of time. She clothes the still imagery with the dynamic motion of ideas and feelings, the inner music of an image. The synthesis of these aesthetic experiences, real and imagined, point to some definite roots- the Nature that gave birth to men who so seek to destroy it.

“Jashi lets the images and the Georgian people speak for themselves. The closing credits acknowledge a roll call of villages including Alambari, Laituri and Supsa. There is no commentary or context but gradually we gain a sense of what these trees have meant to people. They are a piece of many family stories, markers of history passing, places of shelter and livelihoods that are ripe with memories”, reads the review.

The idea seems to be about instigating sensation, creating colorful ambiguity that appeases the heart and the mind in equal measure, and navigating through a range of colorful metaphors. The images are endowed with power to prefigure, foreshadow or epitomize ideas and designs that greatly transcend their traditional value as concrete earthly objects. The part of Jashi’s system is that ”all things are in every-thing”, implying the inherent unity and sympathy of every entity with every other, by virtue of their common origin in the One. All matter has a spark of divinity.

“Trees have been fundamental in my life,” Jashi says. “In my childhood, I would often go to this huge yard in my village where many children would gather. There were several large trees there, and each had a different significance. One was for gathering around, one was for climbing on, another was a kind of symbol of strength. Trees mean a lot to me, and to others too.”

Jashi’s documentary has been selected alongside works by Ephraim Asili (The Inheritance), Avi Mograbi (The First 54 Years), Fabrizio Ferraro (The Luminous View), among other distinguished directors, with screenings planned for June 9-20. 

10 February 2021 15:50