City of the Sun

Director: Rati Oneli
Genre: Documentary
Duration: 104′
Language: Georgian (english subtitles)
Countries of production: Georgia, USA, Qatar, Netherlands
World Premiere – Berlinale Forum
Award of the Federal Foreign Office for Cultural Diversity – goEast
Best Feature of the International Competition Section – DOCUMENTAMADRID
Art Doc Award – Sheffield Doc/Fest
Heart of Sarajevo for Best Documentary Film
Special Mention – Batumi International Art-House Film Festival
Special Jury Award – Minsk International Film Festival Listapad
Best Documentary Award – Tbilisi International Film Festival
Best Documentary – MiradasDoc
CGIL Commission Prize – Bergamo Film Meeting Close Up section
Up to 50 percent of the world’s manganese, a vital metal across the globe, used to be mined in Chiatura, in western Georgia. Today, it resembles an apocalyptic ghost town. Mzis qalaqiportrays a few of the remaining inhabitants. Music teacher Zurab dismantles ramshackle concrete buildings and sells the iron girders to make some money on the side. Archil still works in the mine but his real passion is the local amateur theatre group. Despite being malnourished, two young female athletes still train stoically for the next Olympic Games.

In his documentary debut, director Rati Oneli provides fascinating insights into a living environment whose bleak industrial ruins appear at once colossal and like a film set. A jumble of clapped out electric wires and aging cable cars runs through the city like the clogged-up arteries of an ailing organism that resists the flow of life in untiring fashion. Mzis qalaqi brings home the ephemeral nature of utopias. In a city where the sun never shines, it’s only the inhabitants that generate warmth. Oneli succeeds in achieving far more than the mining companies are capable of: His camera brings that most valuable of resources to the surface – humanity.

World Premiere – Berlinale Forum