As the only exception to a Feature Film Official Section starring children and adolescents, Georgian film Parade, by Nino Zhvania, focuses on the reunion of three old friends in Tbilisi. The film is structured as a road movie, where the main characters travel by car, bus, running or strolling. The three characters are all over 50 and their lives have been marked by the Soviet past of a now independent country.
The film is inspired by Husbands (John Cassavetes, 1970), as well as by the director’s memories of the conversations between her father and his friends, part of the lost generation of Georgia.
– How does a 36-year-old director end up shooting a road movie starting three men over 50?
– The script was offered to me. Initially I was worried, since, as you mention, I am a woman and the main characters are three men that are my father’s age, but are not at all similar to him. I was worried about failing and not being able to capture the male universe of that generation. But I really liked the script, because it reminded me of the film Husbands, by John Cassavetes, with four male friends as the lead characters. I asked the actors to help me with the dialogues, to give them a more realistic touch. Two of the characters are not actors, so the work with them was different, since, in every take where the third character, who is an actor, stood out, the others felt inferior and did a worse job. So, I decided that they would develop their relationship in their own words. That’s why the film transmits such spontaneity. It was all a question of mutual trust.
– Would you consider your film as part of the road movie genre?
– Perhaps, it could be best affiliated to the road movie genre than any other, since it narrates a day in the life of the characters and, during that day, they travel by car, taxi, bus and walking along roads.
– The film portrays a male generation with a very stereotyped view of women. Have you presented this as criticism or as a reflection?
– The three women that the main characters encounter are in their same situation, not in life, but in how they feel. They feel, like the men do, lost. In Georgia there is a big problem that is pointed out in the film with a sentence: one of the main characters is dancing with one of the women and he says that he hasn’t danced with his wife for the last 15 years. And this is something very sad that affects many families of previous generations: they live under the same roof, but they don’t have any contact. Luckily, the younger generations only live with who they choose to. I didn’t intend to show anything sexual, I wanted to display a warm relationship between two human beings. They spend a friendly and nice night together, in tune with each other.
– Parade is a film about people born in the Soviet era. What have the main challenges and problems of your parent’s generation been in adapting to current times?
– Most of them are lost, because they lived their youth during the Soviet era and then the USSR dissolved, and many feel lost in democracy. Because of this, the film is also about childhood, about regrets, about how they feel. When they are apart, they are very unhappy, and when they are together, they act like children because they are childhood friends. Some people have referred to them as losers, but I don’t see them that way, I consider that they are a product of the times they’ve had to live through.
– One of the assets of the film is the cinematography, under the responsibility of Gigi Samsonadze, with light and shadow contrasts that seem to be inspired by the Golden Age of Flemish painting. What instructions did you give her?
– The preproduction process was very extensive, so we pondered over the colors, the types of lenses and, in general, the direction of photography. We knew the film would require long takes. We wanted to give it a celluloid aspect, although its filmed digitally, and we used anamorphic lenses to give it a grainy feel. We used very little light, the least possible. We would shoot during dawn and dusk.
– Did you intend to include self-irony when one of the characters mentions that arthouse films are about idiots who walk up and down train tracks?
– (Laughter) It’s a joke, yes. I don’t share the idea of directors forcing the audience to be nervous for no reason. A good example is the tension generated on a train track, when you fear that a train will appear and run over the characters. I don’t understand why they would want to make you feel something like that.
– The song the old lady sings in the bus is quite shocking, because of its harsh lyrics. Is this a popular song in your country or did you write it for the film?
– It is a very old song and it’s called A Mother’s Heart. The old lady that appears in the film sings all the time and, when we were editing the film, we paid attention to that song in particular and considered the lyrics to be really tough. Since the editing of this scene was very complicated, the editor and I would listen to it over and over again; we started off disliking it and thinking it was too harsh, but then we started to hum it after hearing it so much and ended up including it.
– Are you afraid that only Georgians will be able to fully understand the pathos and conflicts of the film?
– To an extent, because there are many dialogues and, since we speak about feelings, it is quite international. There will be people that will feel something and people that won’t.