FILM REVIEW: Corn Island

A young girl clutches her tattered handmade doll tight to her chest as her grandfather rows her to the island of fertile soil which has appeared in the middle of the Enguri River- a stretch of water dividing the warring Georgian and Abkhazian troops.

Together they build a wooden hut- heavy and painstaking work. Then the man tills the earth and, with his grand-daughter’s help, sows the corn kernels, their island occasionally passed by soldiers of both sides. The grandfather remains carefully neutral in the conflict until he finds a Georgian soldier, wounded, hiding in his corn. He reluctantly hides the man in his hut; clothes, feeds and nurses him back to health. It is more of a moral obligation than love of the task. But when he sees the soldier flirting with his grand-daughter, it is made clear that his welcome is at an end.

And as the corn grows that season, so does the girl- her doll, like her innocence, abandoned as she becomes aware of her body, her sexuality and the cruelty of the world around her.

The girl and her grandfather speak but a few lines throughout the whole film, leaving the audience to read body-language, emotion and environment in a way which makes the experience of watching extremely personal.

After the film, hosted by CineClub and Amirani Cinema, GEORGIA TODAY spoke with the director, Giorgi Ovashvili, and the young shy actress Mariam Buturishvili, who told us how he spent months seeking Mariam out- the perfect face for his leading role. Mariam herself had no desire to act until Giorgi came along and showed her the world of film production- and now she is ambitious to do more.

Other titbits the director revealed was the challenge of building an island in the middle of a river. In fact, there were no suitable shooting locations on the Enguri River itself, though the legend of the corn islands is no myth, and so the film-maker was forced to use a reservoir in which the water level could be controlled- the island was built by one man in four months, to be washed away in a dramatic epilogue in much less time.

Corn Island reflected life and the cycle of nature, where nature always dictates the course of the flow, regardess how Man tries to fight it. Some adapt to that flow, others fight it and they, ultimately, fall.

By Katie Ruth Davies

04 October 2016 16:20