30 years have passed since the fall of Sokhumi. It is not a short period of time. It might be such for history, but not for life or for art. The wound is still open, and the pain is still alive.
This topic has not been closed in the films either. Every now and then, there are films. Some with good, some with less good messages: "This land is ours," "We are in pain," "We were treated unfairly," "We will be back," "We were opposed by the third force," "We are brothers", and "We must stay brothers." But there is still no reflection in sight: if "we are brothers," on what basis should this brotherhood be established (renewed)? If "we must be back," where will we be returning? Who are we going to live with and how? Anyway, it is difficult for us to look at the other side and admit that he was hurt too. He is in pain too.
Nana Janelidze's new film, "Liza, Go On" revolves around this idea, which has not yet been established as a clear trend neither in public thinking nor in the films. The script is based on the experience of its co-author - journalist Lia Toklikishvili, who worked as a war reporter during the Georgian-Abkhazian armed conflict.
The main character of the film is a female journalist, Liza (writer Eka Togonidze plays the role of today's Liza, and Liza in her youth is Nina Eradze), who has experience as a war reporter during the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, and this experience follows her life as a penetrating line. However, not only the stories seen through the reporter's eyes left a deep mark on her life - an unhealed personal drama and a cherished memory were left on the land of Abkhazia, so was the diary of a friend who died in the war, which forces her to look at this war from another angle. This experience does not leave her in peace and quiet, it forces her to search for the truth throughout her life.
Plot-wise, the trigger for the film's action is a strange phone call to the studio, a call from the past. An unknown Abkhazian warrior is calling, who, despite his personal tragedy, managed to rise above this pain and, risking his life, was able to take Liza out of the already fallen town of Ochamchire. "I wonder if I was able to protect him?". An important nuance: not "save", but "protect", which, along with saving, also means protection from bad things. Depending on the context of the film, the bad is the horror of war, which destroys the humanity in a person.
The road to truth is difficult and uneven.
As difficult as Liza's journey from the TV studio to the border erected in the middle of the country. Actually, the way is neither long nor eventful, but it is made difficult by personal memories, excerpts from the diaries of a Georgian warrior or an Abkhazian poet, narrative stories of people displaced from Abkhazia or those who remained in Abkhazia, well-known facts or new or newly-understood ones, tense dialogues or inner monologues, the past and the present...
And all this does not fit on one shelf, does not fit in one line, and is not united in one emotion. The authors constantly oppose one experience to another, one's pain to another’s, which is no less intense; one point of view is against the opposite, which might also have the right to exist. A whirlwind of emotions is swirling on the screen, and, strangely enough, it is not a raging whirlwind that throws emotions out and directs the audience to the same vector. It is a "silent" whirlwind of self-immersion and insight that is crossed by a separate emotional explosion like lightning.
It is not accidental that the most emotionally intense, painful-to-experience stories are "told" by the narrator's voice and animation; they not only tell us but also evaluate them, not with existing bias but with images and icons that have become universal symbols, and accordingly, what has been seen and experienced by specific people they elevate to the level of a universal tragedy, combining the pain of the Georgian and Abkhazian.
In the title, the appeal "Go!" is not only addressed to Liza. Liza is each of us. Lisa is each of us. This urges each viewer not to freeze the authors in captivity of stereotypes once and for all, to go through their own way to seek answers to questions that do not allow Lisa to rest. "Where was the truth and who was the homeland in this war?"
One is historical justice; the other is concrete human experience. Those who are in pain care less about whose side the historical truth is on; they have their own truth. Only the strong can rise above their own pain. This applies both to an individual person and to groups of people and, as a whole, to the nation.
It is not by chance that the words from our praiseworthy folk ballad will be heard in the film: "The tiger’s mother might be more mournful than me...," the words that we rarely meet as behavior, and often as quotation, so often that it was a great risk of banality and sloganism to put them into the film. However, in parallel to the main story line, the authors manage very deftly to include it as the lyrics of a song that Liza's friend quests for, and according to her dictation, he precisely adjusts a rhythmic, wiry musical composition.
What do we want - a road or a dead end? Blaming each other will not lead us to the road, and even more so, it will not lead us to each other. The strong are always the first to say, "Forgive me too."
There have been individual attempts in this direction so far, in prose, drama, and here and there in films; the understanding of this may inspire this thought as well. But none of these cases could become public events that would provoke even a discussion or outrage as the first step towards rethinking what is generally accepted.
It is interesting whether this emotional, stormy film leads to the activation of "issues" that have relocated to the periphery, whether it is able to invite the public to an open discussion, or will everything end up with silent rejection?
The reaction of Abkhazians is certainly interesting too, and the film must be seen on the other side of the Enguri River. But anyway, I think that it is more important to stir the moods, views, and emotions of our society, because the strong are always the first to say, "Forgive me".

Manana Lekborashvili

PHD in Art Criticism (Film Studies),
Associate Professor

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