Keti Machavariani: Salt White (Marilivit tetri, 2011)

reviewed by Lela Ochiauri © 2011

A Ticket to the Shore of Dream and Hope

For some people a salt shore may be an exotic place, for some it is a unique nature phenomenon, for other it means fulfillment of dreams, and for yet others yet it stands for a hope that can be grasped and turned into reality.

salt whiteIn the salt white, spotted and crystallized world, the spectator sees fragments of three lives: that of Nino, working seasonally as a waitress at a seaside resort; of Niko, a policeman; and that of Sopo, a homeless child. Their past and present differ greatly. They seem to have nothing in common apart from the space (town) where they accidentally meet. Soon their paths separate again, because Salt White is a story of lonely people who will probably never meet again.

Salt White is Keti Machavariani’s first full-length feature film, and the viewer’s first introduction to a director who has her own position, story and a promising future.  

The action of the film occurs during one summer season (or rather part of the season), which looks like all other days, seasons, and years that follow one after the other in a monotonous way... People are used to the routine of life, to helplessness and hopelessness. Nothing changes. Time passes unnoticed. Every day is the same, life is a circle with no beginning and no end; there is no aim that would justify existence. Everything arouses the sense of loneliness, despair and vanity. There is only inner silence—frozen stillness and loneliness. Such stillness is the result of loneliness and solitude, the indifference is a result of silence, expectation and helplessness.

There is an atmosphere of despair and fatality, full of sadness and loneliness, of reserved, unspoken agitation and strange sorrow, which can be physically felt. The distant cry of people who are lost in time and space, and the annoying noise of cheap cafes and bungalows, the sound of sea-waves, the mixed noise and rhythm of the city all echo this atmosphere before the sound ultimately disappears in space.

salt whiteThe inner life of a human being—the tempo and rhythm of life (the film), the perception of events, the attitude to reality, the senses—all this reflects the state of the film’s characters and the inexistence of Nino, Niko and Sopo in a reality where they are unable to find peace, comfort and their own place.

The “love affair” of Nino and Niko, Nino’s wish to take care of Niko and Sopo, Sopo’s striving for freedom and her influence on Nino’s personality and fate, expectations, hopeful patience and a wish to overcome the vicious circle (even though illusionary)—all this helps the main characters to cross the borders of reality. This is felt in every detail of the film and enables the characters to enter new dimensions.

Sopo hides in the boot of a passing bus and goes into an unknown direction. Niko leaves to find work in another place. This is a chance for him to start a new life. Nino buys a one-way ticket in a dirty and uncomfortable booking-office and sets off for the salt shore she has seen on a photo that Sopo gave her (this is Sopo’s dreamland). This is a ticket to an unreal future of dreams and hopes—a one-way ticket to a sphere plunged into whiteness and peace. In this dreamland everything is refined, clear and transparent, crystal-shaped, spotted, mixed and salty, very salty in taste, like tears.

The sensations caused by the film lead to one set of associations, which in turn leads to more and more associative chains.

In our life we often come across groups of homeless children walking in the streets. We see waitresses (working seasonally or permanently). Naturally, we also see policemen who maintain order even when they chase homeless children or fruit traders sitting at the edge of the road. Yet we hardly ever think about their personality or fate, their worries, joys, feelings, dreams and life in general...

Probably many of us have dreamed of buying a one-way ticket to some unknown destination, to a strange land once seen on a photo (going temporarily or for good), because we cannot find peace, comfort and happiness in the place where we live.

In the first decade of the 21st century a new generation of filmmakers has appeared in Georgian cinema: it is a generation with a new vision and a different mentality, with new heroes and stories, with a different attitude towards life, towards past, present and future. Keti Machavariani is a representative of this new generation. 

Lela Ochiauri

Salt White, Georgia, 2011
Color, 80 minutes, 35 mm
Director and Scriptwriter: Keti Machavariani
Director of Photography: Giorgi Shvelidze
Composer:  Gio Tsintsadze
Editor: Nodar Nozadze
Sound: Paata Godziashvili
Production Design: Thea Telia
Costumes: Tinatin Kvinikadze
Make-up: Salome Sajaia
Cast: Nino Koridze, Fea Tsivadze, Gagi Svanidze, Giorgi Kipshidze, Giorgi Giorganashvili, Naniko Sakandelidze, Nestan Kvinikadze, Berdia Intskirveli, Megi Kobaladze, Guga Sulkhanishvili...
Producers: “Jaga Grip”, Levan Korinteli, Gia Bazghadze
Co-producer: Kote Rizhinashvili.
The film was financed by Georgian National Film Center and screened at Karlovy Vary 2011.

Keti Machavariani: Salt White (Marilivit tetri, 2011)

reviewed by Lela Ochiauri © 2011