Niko Lomouri's poem "Frost and Little Disciple" is forever imprinted on almost everyone who has read this poem as a memory of the first deep feeling of childhood, causing indelible sad emotions. The inspiration of director Giorgi Ovashvili's short film of the same name (2023) is the product of similar feelings from his childhood. It is true that a children's film is perceived as a novelty in Ovashvili's work, but if we look closely, even in his previous films ("The Other Bank," "Corn Island") the leading role belongs to children or adolescents. The essence of their existence, which is still unformed and unperceived, is refined and formed as a result of the events in the film, and in the finale, as a consequence of strong emotions, they appear as wise people who have reached catharsis.
The director visually brings to life the story told in verse-wresting of a little boy yearning to study and the merciless frost. Surrounded by snowy, icy mountains, gloomy, harsh, but beautiful nature, a lonely little boy, exhausted from the cold, stubbornly walks his way to school with a book in his hand. The frost whispers methodically:
"Your willfulness will soon fail,
And you will turn so red again,
Even older ones than you
Broke their necks and so will you.”
And the child relentlessly runs to school, where a classroom warmed and lit by fire, a loving teacher and a classmate girl are waiting for him. As he runs, his hat moves, endlessly rolling downhill, and like Albert Lamorisse‘s famous film, “The Red Balloon” (1956), it is seen as a symbol of freedom and determination.
Based on a poem written in the 19th century, the small-scale film "Frost and the Little Disciple" is full of metaphors and hints that echo the problems of the 21st century, especially our mountainous regions, where the demographic problem is evident. In deserted villages, schools are closed due to lack of children and teachers, roads are damaged by natural disasters, residents leave not only the villages, but also the country en masse due to lack of funds or poor living conditions. Apart from this minor addition, the film also depicts the human striving to achieve the set goal, which no obstacle can stop. Here, too, the theme of unrequited love will be heard in the expressive eyes of two little heroes. The rudiment of the mentioned feeling is sharpened by their names - Romeo and Juliet, which evokes an allusive expectation of Shakespeare's immortal work in the audience, but in this succinctly told story, with Ovashvili's characteristic sparing of words and image emphasis, against the background of feelings revealed only by the gaze, this Shakespearean passage is, to say the least, exaggerated, from the general context. It falls flat and leaves the audience disappointed. As if, the feeling conceived in children comes to fruition there, because the girl's parents take her to the city to study, and one disciple remaining in the class prompts the closing of the school. The first love failed, but the tragedy remained.
The visual side of the film is especially highlighted. The painting works of the production designer, Nino Chakvetadze, were meticulously combined and adapted to the essence and content of the film, which was finally perfected by the cameraman Touraj Aslani (Iran). For some reason, Giorgi Ovashvili does not favor for Georgian cameramen. All his film cameramen are invited from different countries and fulfill the director's requirements properly. This time too, the image of the film creates an impressive harmonious unity and provides us with intensity from the screen, which is added more sound by the music of the composer Roy Schwartz (Israel).
This film is part of a large international project in which filmmakers from several countries take part. As the whole world can be reflected in one drop of water, so in this united film project, the problems and feelings of people of different nationalities will be reflected, and their unity will become reliable, which is very important in this turbulent century.