Cinema art, with its versatile means of expression, offers the director various opportunities to convey his message to the audience in one form or another. How the director will use this opportunity depends on his talent. An original vision, a distinctive style of narration, relevant topics and many other factors determine the success of the film. One of the most important roles is played by a film narrative, the story development and the film structure which maintains its rhythm in order to properly express what is being said. A director is faced with a more difficult dilemma when shooting a short film. He tries to convey the insight of the film as succinctly as possible, without losing the meaning of the main idea.

In this regard, the short film "My friend Andro" (2021) by modern Georgian director Katalina Bakradze is worth noting, the screenplay of which belongs to the director herself. The film won the main prize "Golden Prometheus" at the 23rd Tbilisi International Film Festival in 2022. In addition, this film is the winner of several international awards.

The main character Andro (Levan Gabrava) is an avid illusionist who tries to arouse admiration in the audience with his virtuoso "lies." We get to know the main character from the very first shots through the horizontal panorama of the room wall. Paintings, photographs, various items, miniature sculptures hanging on the wall in a collage style take us on a journey to Andro’s inner world. The electric piano standing nearby and the concert poster on the wall "tell us" about Andro's career as a successful pianist.

The director applies an original way of story-telling. A voice is heard from behind the shot, which informs us that Mariam is filming. She stands in front of the wall of Andro's room and, with a handheld movie camera, seems to be simulating the camera movement with the cameraman. During the story, Mariam constantly follows Andro and shoots all his magic tricks. In this way, she is associated with the director of the film, who does not leave the main character during the course of the story, sympathizes with him and thus, shows an empathic attitude towards him.

Passers-by also constantly appear in the film, to whom Andro offers his tricks. In the very first episode, where we learn about Andro’s talent abilities, the faces of passers-by are very natural. Not a single superfluous gesture, mime, no theatrical pathos is felt in it. Moreover, they are even too indifferent. All this is so natural that at some point the film acquires a documentary aesthetic. One of the episodes also creates the character of the information program, when Andro's colleague, Tina and musical editor, Nika, in the interview given to the Mariam standing off-screen, express skepticism towards the main character. The director wakes up the audience with such television-chronicle-documentary-like footage and reminds us that individuals, like Andro are encountered in real life, who are pushed aside by society.

The narrative develops gradually, following the "opening" of the main character. Andro's "street audience" reaches a larger scale, which itself gives great pleasure. This is not selfishness, but a positive drive selflessly given to others. The climax of the film is gradually revealed when it becomes clear that Andro is not an ordinary, just a talented illusionist, but a magician who does not need to impress the audience with some promised sequence of tricks and actions, but what he does, in the end, is the merit of his special abilities.

The director often makes use of close-ups. The lens gets so close to the characters’ faces as well as Andro's trick performances that you become a part of the magic. It's like you are there, in the movie, not outside. The contemplative images of Andro's mother (Ia Shugliashvili) and aunt (Lika Shukakidze) are also very interesting. Their frozen and, at the same time, puzzled gazes indicate that something alarming is happening to Andro's head in their consciousness. The family members' lack of empathy towards Andro further intensifies the hero's feeling of loneliness in the world. It is not acceptable anywhere – indoors or outdoors. No one can accept his specialness – neither his own mother, relative, colleague, nor even his supervisor. As if his personality should be appreciated and recognized only by the presence of musical talent, which he seems to already have, and other supernatural powers, which are symbolic in the film (which also allows for multiple interpretations for the audience) are unacceptable and repulsive for the norms established in society. He is either crazy, or a swindler, a liar. Andro’s character is slowly facing the danger of discredit.

The final episode of the film, the action of which unfolds in the exhibition space, is interesting. The real world and the world frozen in time blend together. Objects, animals, taken from the photo are embedded in everyday life and become tangible. The past flows into the present and becomes part of it. It's like a mystical journey through time and space. Elements of the fantasy genre further intensify the effect of the hero's supernatural abilities on the audience.

The demonstration of the main character’s otherworldly powers, reaches its peak, causing great chaos, alarm, distrust among the audience. It is after this moment when the relationship between the audience, admired by Andro and Andro himself, begins to break down. The public is amazed and, at the same time, experiences the spectacle caused by the disappointment of pleasure, a pleasure which is known to be false. It is here that the director’s main point is revealed, by which she shows the society's disapproval of something strange. When a person is in a constant lie, it gets used to it and accepts it as the norm. The society would rather be deceived and acquiesce to that lie. It knows that the illusionist is deceiving but it still admires him, because it also knows that behind it there are banal rules that any open-minded person can learn if he wants to. And when it collides with reality face to face, that's when the problem of unacceptability arises and the alienation of the individual in relation to them begins, the individual who, in many cases, represents what it really represents – devoid of falsehood and flattery. This is how the psychological types of the individual and the crowd are gradually distinguished in the film. A crowd that is afraid of what is real, afraid of the truth, afraid of honesty, and prefers to live in a self-absorbed, habitual lie, to blindly follow established norms. It is much simpler.

Katalina Bakradze gives us the final trick episode (how things and animals disappear from the photos displayed on the wall) with her own "magical" skill, which adds more expressiveness to the shot. The camera also captures a close-up of the "attackers" gathered in a group, their surprised and also distrustful faces towards Andro. These faces are covered with the effect of "blur", "squatting," which symbolically emphasizes the chaotic nature of their thoughts and ideas, anxiety and fear. Also noteworthy is the role of music, which also serves as a narrative. It carefully enters the shot first with minor, monotonous rhythms, and then, as the story develops, when the hero's limitless abilities reach their climax, the music also acquires the appropriate rhythms, thereby intensifying the effect of suspense. At least in every minute in the film there is an expectation of a sharp change in the narrative.

The negative attitude of the society ultimately leaves Andro’s character disappointed. The film ends with his fiasco. He walks slowly, turning his back, along the dark street. It is interesting where his path continues, what awaits him. His special abilities, his uniqueness suppressed, he will become one of them if the struggle continues, the struggle to establish himself in a world where no one will be recognized if one is not like him. The director leaves the audience to think about that.

Spectators admiring Andro's magic tricks represent society, seemingly harmless, cheerful. In fact, they are depressed, obsessed with a complex, afraid of change. They more simply and easily recognize the stamped, established norms rooted in society, than different, unacceptable "deviant" events, even if it does not pose a threat to them.

The success of the film is probably due to the fact that the "tragic" fate of the hero does not depress the audience with excessive dramatic passages, but with light humor, allows judgment and understanding.

Due to the specifics of its original story, "My friend Andro" does not realistically convey the essence of the problem of the society and for this it uses allegorical nuances, which add more originality to the dramaturgy of the film. Why did the director still choose a hero who performs miracles to represent the idea? Perhaps because we ourselves are part of this miracle, the "magic," a miracle that we often fail to analyze or we do and forget and don't appreciate because our minds are focused on the more material world. The problem that unfolds in the film against the background of one hero and society is quite relevant. The psychological narrative that is the main plot has been and, unfortunately, will continue to be in our reality, until the mindset of society reaches a point where it adequately perceives and accepts the individual as he is, with his values, ideas, aspirations, and so on until tolerance becomes an organic part for it.

Ketevan Ghonghadze

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