Several quite good documentaries were screened at the 24th Tbilisi International Film Festival. By the jury's decision, Giorgi Parkosadze's film "Requiem to the Hot Days of Summer" (2023) became the winner in the full-length documentary nomination. I will not hide that I was dissatisfied with such a decision. The duration of this movie is 74 minutes, but its director spared no talent and effort to make this time hellishly long and uninteresting.

The film tells about a young boy, Guri and his mother. It shows how they live in the mountainous region. Guri is an energetic young man who is involved in rural activities. He has goals and plans, but caring for his land and trying to enjoy it, he can't leave the village for now.

He is visited by the Belgian guests who travel the world to learn about the experiences of different farmers. Georgians show foreigners the cheese-making technique and daily village routine. The main character shares his future plans with the guests, which shows Guri’s spirit as of a young man and his desire for a better future.

Summer is followed by winter. Preparations for the cold season are underway: rehabilitation of the cowshed, roofing, preservation of cheese... During the renovation works, we slowly learn about the family members and the neighborhood. But everything happens only superficially, at the expense of scarce information. The main thing in the film is not the people, but the mountains themselves and their changes according to the seasons. Finally, we can see the tree with which the film begins, but not green, but covered with snow and swaying in the wind. A tree of life and a tree during death.

This is all that can be considered the "content" of the film, because it is obvious that the director wanted the film to be more meditative. When the viewer sees himself in the environment that is presented on the screen, at the same time, he might think about how he would behave in its place. The author's aspiration was not to interest the audience involved in the story telling but to make them think. However, the point is that we often want something but it doesn't work out or we convince ourselves that it is what we wanted, when the result is a tragicomic illusion of our desires in reality. That's what happened in the case of this movie.

74 minutes is the best length for a documentary. Especially for a story like this one has, though, it's not enough to make a movie good. It needs a well-articulated idea so that the audience can understand everything and not have to worry about how to react to it – watch and wait for an interesting narrative or simply enjoy the beautiful shots that the director shows. By this I mean panoramic shots that describe the beauty of our country. And what can we do that our country is beautiful?! Is one family and Guria mountains enough to make an interesting documentary? Of course no.

Documentary cinema differs from feature film in that the director does not have to think of a plot, but he has to discover it, he has to find an interesting topic or story with which to create a film. For many, it's just a matter of taking pictures, then editing and arranging them chronologically. However, this is not so. It should have an idea, something to say and, most importantly, the director's position. While watching the film, the audience should understand why the author made this particular story. Giorgi Parkosadze is not seen in this film, not in any detail. It is removed from this work in every way (I don't mean removed, when the author does not interfere with the development of characters and plot, gives them freedom, so as not to violate authenticity). The author's handwriting is so illegible that it does not matter who made the film. After watching, before reading the credits, I got the impression that the director was not even on the set and only the camera crew had to work there, although it turned out that the director himself was the cameraman of this film.

Regarding this aspect, the film seems to have nothing to complain about. The author was able to get close to the characters with a camera and became familiar with them. The panoramic views are also beautiful, but not impressive. It can be seen in the film that he is clearly tense. Parkosadze cannot be a director and cinematographer at the same time because the film lacks a narrative. Everything seems to be in order, but there is no person who will say: "That's what the film is about, and that's why I made it." For some, this is acceptable cinema but it is anything but cinema.

Giorgi Parkosadze, along with everything else, is also the editor of the film, together with Fernando Martin Restelli. After the movie ended, the first thing that came to my mind was that I saw an extended short documentary film. Many times while watching, I thought about why this or that shot was needed or why the panorama went on for so long, which had no purpose. After the film show, I wondered why he could not remove or cut a few shots that he ruined the whole movie. I can't say what the short version would have been like, given all the key components, but I'm sure we'd have been less disappointed, so much so that I wouldn't even want to write this review.

François Truffaut says in one of his articles that, in his opinion, a film critic should always justify the director and be on his side. At first glance, it seems like a romantic and kind gesture for the people working in the field of cinema but this is not the case. I can't really do the same, especially when Georgian documentary cinema in the last decade is much higher in quality than feature film and I believe that it is the most advanced in Europe in its style, narrative and vision. At this time, I consider it a bearish thing to evaluate such a film in a moderate way.

Giorgi Parkosadze's main problem is that he got too involved in the creation process. Only experienced filmmakers can simultaneously work in three positions on this or that film and he forgot his main position – directing – at the moment of this split. In the end, it turned out that the film direction, cinematography and editing are weak.

Roger Ebert, a famous American film critic, once said, "No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is too short." It seems that my desire and feeling that "Requiem to the Hot Days of Summer" should have been short, says it all.

Saba Makharashvili

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