One of the tasks of short film is to present young directors. This format allows the author to introduce a wider audience his artistic language, findings and insights. With a small budget and in less time, the director can create a film that will be remembered by movie lovers. The more experimental such a film is, the more interesting it can be for film critics. Georgian filmmakers have recently become more active in this direction. There are many short film festivals in the world and many prestigious awards have come to Georgia.
In Giorgi Kobalia's short film, "Duck Hunting" (2022), in addition to its content, it is important to focus on the dire topic, which is expressed in the danger of language extinction. In this work, the conversation takes place entirely in the Mingrelian language, which is important in our era, when the language is dying out at such a rapid rate.
In any country, in every part of the world, different people have their own language. Often the language has no national or official status or is not taught. This condition can lead to language impairment, and over time, its complete disappearance. There are about 6,000 spoken languages in the world, 80% of which are facing extinction. As UNESCO reports, one language dies every 15 days, and the Mingrelian language is already in danger. This movie is a pretty good advertisement and one step forward to keep it. Language is the most precious treasure. Every language has the right to exist because it is not only a means of communication, it is a reflection of people's culture, that is why it is very important to preserve it and continue to communicate with it.
The film describes an accidental crime and the emotions that the criminals experience, and saving a loved one at any cost. Its action revolves around an accidental killing and its aftermath. Brothers Tengo (Jano Izoria) and Data (Luka Kankia) are hunting ducks, when Data accidentally kills their neighbor. Fearing punishment, Tengo decides to hide the corpse, tie on the stones and sink it to the bottom of the lake, although the audience does not see this process. The narration of the story begins with the subsequent events. It's amazing how guilt and simple carelessness can turn a situation into a complete mess. One action can change not only your life but also the life of your loved ones. The older brother is ready to do everything for the younger brother, lie to the law and Neighbors, commit crimes in order to ensure a normal life for him.
After the crime, Tengo suffers, he feels remorse for what he did, but he constantly encourages himself and says that anything can happen by chance. When a murder happens accidentally, does it mean that you can go on with your life as if nothing happened - clean the hunted stuff, eat, drink, feel sorry for the family members of the murdered as the main character of the film does. The use of the word "accidental" in conjunction with murder is, to say the least, embarrassing. It sounds very strange to hear that coming from the mouth of a murderer. What is important in the film is not the crime itself, but the consequences and the feelings that the criminals experience. Tengo is a man who overcame himself to protect his family. Although he is suffering and cannot find a place to rest, this still does not justify his behavior, which is aimed at covering up the crime. This characterizes him only as a strong person who is ready to do the impossible for his brother.
Data's guilty conscience does not allow him to sleep peacefully. He is anxious, on the one hand, by the crime, and on the other hand, by his brother, who was forced to add crime to crime to save him. Data is ready to repent and feel relief.
The director of the film has shown the events so realistically that the audience begins to empathize with the characters and, at the same time, you feel that any of us can find ourselves in a similar situation. what are you going to do? Tell the truth or protect your loved one at any cost? As strange as it may be, you don't feel sorry for being killed, but you are on the side of the murderers, you stand by them, and you don't want Data to confess the truth and be punished for his crimes in the finale. Somewhere you hope that the crime didn't happen and it was just their imagination, you can't rush the heroes to the end for the punishment and expect a miracle for a sudden end. That is why the director leaves the finale open to the hope of the audience. Everyone imagines the characters’ fate in their minds.
The movie is thought provoking. It is impossible for the viewer not to imagine himself in Data or Tengo’s place. It is difficult to give a definite answer to the question of what you would do in their place. This is not just about brotherly love, but about morality and fortitude. Would you have enough strength to think about covering your tracks after the crime? How can you go on living next to the family members of the murdered people. The film makes you think that well-being is a state that can change in a minute. It does not teach life, it only shows what is happening in reality.
The cold, silent, sometimes gloomy environment, the hopelessness painted in gray colors, the difficulties and the impasse in which the brothers find themselves, are easy to understand for the audience. The landscape, the way the characters speak, the houses, the rooms and the neighborhood relationships reflect the Mingrelian mentality very well. Anyone who has ever lived in Mingrelia (western Georgia) will find something very close and familiar in this film.
What could have been done to make this film more cohesive and memorable? First of all, it is probably the music. It does not use even a few seconds of a melancholic melody, which would have made the movie more attractive. However, a number of relevant melodies can be found in the Mingrelian folklore. The sound is also a big problem, because the dialogues are voiced so low that it is difficult to distinguish the conversation. The provincial settlement, family and neighborhood relations, investigation shown in the story – all these details are not fully revealed, therefore they only partially fill the story. There is also no in-depth picture of the characters. Some scenes are shot hastily and are not fully developed, which causes a feeling of dissatisfaction when the film ends.
The story is accompanied by a strained tune that doesn't suit its content at all, so it looks out of context and fails to create a mood to watch. The beginning of the film gives the impression of a report for National Geographic channel, not a feature film. This is reinforced by the scene in which two young men burn their own clothes by the fire. The director is too quick to introduce his characters, leaving out key factors in showing their positive sides and revealing their inner struggles, so the ending is completely lacking in sharpness, and in the final scene it loses its dramatic intensity.
Apart from Jano Izoria, other actors do not have any special episodes, so it would be possible to evaluate their professional skills. Luca Kankia, being the only non-professional actor, has done a good job with his role. He was able to convey to the audience the inner turmoil that his character is experiencing. All the emotions of Jano Izoria's character, Tengo, are portrayed realistically, the audience feels even the slightest change in his character, which is manifested not only in his actions, but also in his facial expressions, appearance, gestures and movements.
The two brothers, two related parties, can be compared to sin and repentance. The first forces you to do something that will change your life and mind once and for all, and the other helps you get rid of the guilt of what you did. Like Tengo, not everyone can accept their sin. Many are afraid of repentance, but it is necessary so that, after a sincere confession, a person can find peace of mind and find the strength to continue living, as Data is an example of.
"Duck Hunting," which is only twenty minutes long, is an interesting film. It is true that it is not a masterpiece, but with this timeline, the director manages to raise a controversial topic and make the audience think.