"Fog Curtain" (2019) is Tinatin Emiridze’s short student film. When it comes to this kind of work, the director can be forgiven for some mistakes because professional experience eases him over time and his subsequent works gradually improve, although there are issues that stand out as glaring ones in this particular film.
All types of cinema have their own distinct characteristics, including documentary film. There are many difficulties in working with it. First of all, it means unforeseen cases. It is difficult to determine anything in advance, but the circumstance on which the director makes the film is always necessary and of fundamental importance. The latter idea is uniquely the starting point in any genre – be it feature film, documentary film, animation or anything else – the idea is the foundation. Without it, there is simply no finished work.
"Fog Curtain" is a vague film in this respect. It's hard to say what the movie is about. However, it is difficult to give a concrete answer in this case not because it focuses on many details at the same time (there are many films focused on a few things to say) but on the contrary, insufficient attention is paid to any topic.
Perhaps this film is about the fact that art has no language (Ukrainian audience applauds the Georgian-speaking play); the director might want to show us the life of the regional theater (what is happening in the region, what the theater life is like there, etc.) or, simply, she wanted to tell the story of one theater and she chose a theater in Khulo (South West Georgia). On the other hand, it is also possible that everything together was the idea of the film but the sharpness is not visible.
What is the main thing in this work if we are to agree with any of the opinions mentioned here or any other ones? It is highly probable that Tinatin Emiridze is telling us the story of the regional theater. To support this point of view, we can use the title – "Fog Curtain." People know less about the life of the region, even the inhabitants of one region have little information about the life of another region. i.e. there is a mist, a fog that the director cuts through. She rips this curtain aside and lets us look inside. In this respect, of course, we can also think that we are dealing only with getting to know the region, which is established by the first 10 minutes of the film but the curtain that is mentioned and the second part of the film, which is about the theater, connect to each other and leave this kind of association.
From the point of view of the idea, it can be definitely said that the film is unformed. In addition, there are episodes in the work that do not correspond to anything in the film. For example, the words of the theater director: "Everything changes. Everything is changing in the world." It is unclear what the director connected it with or to what she relates this moment. The reason for using the phrase might have been simply that something meaningful, interesting, thought-provoking ought to have been said but actually, how special, innovative or necessary the phrase was for this film is another matter.
The life of the theater and the reflection of theatrical news provide an opportunity to create an interesting sample, especially in documentary cinema but this opportunity, unfortunately, was not used by the author. The story telling is very superfluous. Emiridze tries to describe the stages of creating a performance: what happens before arriving at the theater, how the work goes from the bare stage to the first rehearsals, followed by the costumed rehearsal, the nervousness before the performance and, finally, presenting it to the audience. At a glance, everything is linked correctly. It is chronologically correct but the mistakes are in the specifics of the narrative. The episodes follow each other so quickly, the moments are not chosen to clarify the situation.
"Fog Curtain" is too dry and less informative for a documentary. What exactly does the director want to show? This question mark in itself causes a feeling of loss. If the film is about theater, it is necessary to show the working process better, or at least show more. It would not be wrong to show what the actors or other employees of the theater do outside the theater. An episode of the two ladies is presented though only for a few seconds. Shots of men working or in the street are shot from a distance and it is difficult to distinguish whether they are theater employees or not. If they are also actors, it is necessary to draw attention to it. Because the director and the cameraman know them, the unfamiliar audience doesn't know them either. The director must realize this by some means. And if there are no actors, that is, the people about whom the film is probably made, then why does the director devote so much screen time? Their appearance must serve something. If only these episodes are there to make us realize that this is a populated area, it's really unnecessary. Two or three shots would be enough to show it. In terms of necessity, there is no need at all. Screen time should not have been spent on such trivial matters, and if the aim was to show a general portrait of society, it didn't work either.
In addition, the first 10 minutes of the film are too dragged out. Half of the film is occupied by views and panoramas, especially since these shots are not aesthetically distinguished. It is true that the camera captures nature statically, without rough movement and the center is protected but it is not expressive or memorable. If the cameraman seems to be photographing the mountain, an attractive shot will surely be the result – "most importantly, the camera is set and nature will do its job" – does not justify it. What is added to this is that the purpose of showing so many and so extended landscapes is not clear in the film.
This film cannot be considered as a complete work. As a student and an inexperienced director, she could not have overcome the difficulties of documentary film, since it is common in this genre because any new case, new idea may overcome the director and lose the initial orientation, which is why the final result will be the same as it is in this film.