The latest feature work by Georgian filmmaker Elene Naveriani will have its world premiere at the 55th edition of Directors’ Fortnight, a programme running in parallel with the Cannes Film Festival, after its selection among 30 films for the platform.
Picked for the programme championing projects representing "resistance to any form of ideology and to dominant narratives", the programme will run between May 17-26 and highlight the "emergence of free filmmaking regardless of geographical provenance or any other limiting criteria", Artistic Director Julien Rejl said.
Naveriani's Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry will be one of 20 works for the feature section, bringing the screen version of a novel by author Tamta Melashvili that explores the private life of a single woman in her 40s in a town with conservative ideas.
Etero runs a modest convenience store in a Georgian backwater. Still a virgin at 48, she is constantly the subject of gossip and mockery about her situation. She couldn’t care less, but suddenly discovers love, first love, and though it shakes her to the core, it does nothing to disrupt her deep-rooted independence
- summary from Director's Fortnight
Played by Eka Chavleishvili, the character navigates the plot first brought forward in the novel that quickly became popular with domestic literary audiences, with organisers of the cinema programme noting the "impressive solidity and vulnerability" of both the actor and the camera work in the feature.
A still from the feature, which is based on a popular novel by Tamta Melashvili. Photo via International Film Festival Rotterdam
In their comments on the work, the director said to Variety in comments on Etero, the principal protagonist, that "every day she wins a tiny revolution by confronting the role people try to assign to her".
They also said they had designated Chavleishvili for the role after casting her in the feature Wet Sand, which screened at the Locarno Film Festival in 2021.
When I read Etero’s story, for me it was clear that Eka Chavleishvili was an actress who was able to embody her life. Her rigour, sensibility, and the approach towards the acting was fascinating. Eka has strong charisma and a strong presence in front of the camera that is captivating
- Variety interview with Elene Naveriani
The feature joins the focus on marginalised people and groups in patriarchal and conservative societies in Naveriani's filmmaking.
In Wet Sand, they explored queer love and prejudice in a coastal community, while their debut work I Am Truly a Drop of Sun on Earth, which took the Special Jury Prize at the Seoul International Women's Film Festival in 2018, followed a sex worker and an immigrant in Georgia's capital Tbilisi in its storyline.
Naveriani and Nikoloz Mdivani produced the screenplay for Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, with Agnesh Pakozdi contributing through photography. The feature is produced by the Swiss-based Alva Film, with coproduction by Georgian-based Takes Film. It is set to screen at Théâtre Croisette on May 21 and Cinéma Les Arcades, Cinéma Le Raimu and Cinéma Alexandre III on May 22.
The full Directors' Fortnight selection can be found on the official website.