City of the Sun
(Mzis Qalaqi)

Rati Oneli
Netherlands, Qatar, USA 2015 | 104 Min. | OmeU
Q&A with: Maia Koberidze

The title of this film seems to have an ironic under­tone, because the sun is no longer shin­ing on Chiatu­ra, a town in west­ern Geor­gia, where 50% of the world’s man­ganese was once mined. Today, it is a ghost town of derelict indus­tri­al plants and colos­sal con­crete struc­tures, while the ruins of wires and cable cars lead­ing nowhere hang above.
The towns­peo­ple do their best amidst the decay. A man dis­man­tles con­crete walls with a hammer to sell the iron gird­ers. When he’s not busy scav­eng­ing, Zurab is a ded­i­cat­ed music instruc­tor who tries to teach mildly inter­est­ed stu­dents and a lively women’s choir how to per­form the right notes. Two young female ath­letes train sto­ical­ly for the next Olympic Games, although they are mal­nour­ished. And while Archil still works in the mine, his true pas­sion is an ama­teur the­ater group.
The land­scape and build­ings where the townspeople’s lives play out seem like a huge stage set. With out­stand­ing camera work, CITY OF THE SUN man­ages to gen­er­ate some­thing valu­able in the con­trast between their lives and the archi­tec­tur­al ruins of a past era, while pre­sent­ing what humans are capa­ble of thanks to their robust­ness, calm­ness, and abil­i­ty to find hap­pi­ness.

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Rati Oneli geb. 1977 in Tiflis, Georgien. Er studierte dort Ori­en­tal­is­tik sowie Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions and Media in New York. Zurzeit ver­fol­gt er sein PhD in Philoso­phie an der Euro­pean Grad­u­ate School. Rati Oneli ist als Regis­seur, Pro­duzent und Editor tätig. Er pro­duziert zwei Kurz­filme von Dea Kulum­be­gashvili, die in Cannes gezeigt wurden (INVISIBLE SPACES, 2014; LETHE, 2016). MZIS QALAQI ist Onelis erster abend­fül­len­der Film. Kurz­filme: LEITMOTIF (2012), THEO (2011).