In the category of short films of the 2022 Tbilisi International Film Festival, a student animated film, "Skyscraper" (2020) was shown, which easily took its place in the list of my favorite works. Rarely have I liked a small cinematic story that puts its message across so succinctly, eloquently and impressively. Moreover, about such an eternal human vice and, unfortunately, an insurmountable problem like corruption.

“Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation” – said the genius Walt Disney. Davit Shekriladze, the author of "Skyscraper," is able to convey his message to us with this interesting type of cinema and attractive individual manner.

The plot of the film takes us to a construction site, where well-built men tirelessly and arduously try to erect a multi-storied skyscraper. Their conscientious work is interrupted by a thief who sneaks in at night and tries to steal gold armature. One of the workers catches him on the spot and hands him over to the law enforcement officer, but they do not bring the thief to the police station – in exchange for his release, the criminal offers the policeman some stolen armature, to which the latter recklessly agrees and, moreover, joins the offender in stealing other construction materials. The duet runs out of time and is caught red-hand by the workers returning to work in the morning, after which the process acquires a legal procedure and the plaintiff and the accused parties are seen in court, although justice is not achieved here either – the golden armature seduces the ego of the judge, which is again witnessed by the damaged party. The search for final justice goes to the mayor of the city, who at a glance promises the worker to punish all criminals, but as soon as the worker is out of sight, even the "Supreme Court" takes possession of the golden armature. It is interesting that this passage is conveyed by symbols – the final "boss" sits motionless and two additional black hands grow out of his chest, from which he takes armature with one, and the corrupt judge kisses with the other and then walks out of the room without turning around.

The rampant corruption continues as does the construction – as high as the skyscraper goes, it is not even half reinforced internally, as two-thirds of the armature is gone by the end of the day. As a result of dynamic montage and double exposure, we are approaching the climax: a chain reaction starts – on the opening day, during the speech of the corrupt city mayor, the building collapses. The noise, which is echoed by the loudspeakers in the area, cracks the weakly reinforced building and destroys the skyscraper, leaving all the officials and working people unharmed. This time, fortunately, all the bad guys were punished, but was evil eliminated?

The film took the first place in the 2020 contest "5-Minute Film Contest on Corruption" announced by Radio "Freedom" and deservedly so – animation gives the author an excellent opportunity to accurately convey those artistic images that add extra weight and symbols to the actual topic. Grotesque, masked and expressionistic types are memorable, deliberately exaggerated, "inflated," especially the characters of corrupt law enforcement officers and officials – they resemble the pigs of George Orwell 's "Animal Farm." It is also worth noting that the design of the working people is almost uncolored, at the level of a simple sketch and outline, which emphasizes their simplicity and being on the good side, while the rest of the characters are colored. At a glance, the animation style follows a two-dimensional, cartoonish style that seems simple, lacking depth and detail, almost minimalistic, saturated with only the necessary details and composition. It can be said that the image is even a bit flat. All this can be "blamed" on the deadline due to the competition, however, at the same time, such a style adds its charm to the story and makes it easy to understand for viewers of any age. A small time duration proves that "a long word is said in a short way".

There is no doubt that the film addresses the global problem of corruption, the consequences of which are visible every day. Many city buildings became victims of this "disease," which, along with financial and material losses, even cost human lives – not only at the local level, but also as a result of the so-called elite corruption. Enumerating the accidents and the individuals or organizations behind them would take us far, but to counterbalance all this, we can recall one example of anti-corruption success: while in February 2023, a terrible 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria almost leveled the Hatay province of Turkey, not a single building was destroyed in the town of Erzin in the same province. As a result of thorough research, the "creator" behind this miracle was soon found. In addition to the fact that geologists named the location of the town on a naturally high plateau and the activities of professional engineers as the reason for this, it was also noted that it was the result of the stubbornness of the mayor of Erzin, who categorically fought corruption.

One of the main missions and purposes of art and any of its fields is to convey an important message easily to the audience – Shekriladze's film perfectly succeeds in this and gives a new life to Georgian animation, which has a rich history and is very oppressed in modern cinema, and proves how necessary it is to promote animation and talented people like Shekriladze in today's Georgian cinema.

Eter Parchukidze

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