Directed by: #MaritaStocker
Documentary film review by: Brian Penn
The opening frames of this documentary could have come straight from the director’s manual of film making. Marita Stocker perfectly captures the use of light and shade portraying the decaying Paliashvili Music School in Tbilisi. Fresh faced students play for elderly, disillusioned tutors. The juxtaposition of ageing faces with peeling walls gives the impression of a care home in terminal decline. But this is a music school fighting for survival in a country that doesn’t give priority to the performing arts. Sat upon a hill overlooking the Georgian capital it has seen better days, and was once a hot house for the country’s leading musicians.
It provides a curious almost cliched view of Eastern Europe, when the iron curtain separated people from western ideals and progress everyone else took for granted. Time has apparently stood still untroubled by the modern world. Their perspective is grey and one dimensional, you half expect students to turn up in flairs and hot pants such is the old cold war feel of the piece. Teachers, pupils and administrators contrast sharply in their demeanour. There are touching exchanges between a kindly, grey haired piano teacher and her young charge. The embittered principal complains that too many teachers are leaving; but his colleague insists they are too old to work anywhere else. Meanwhile, staff complain about the quality of instruments that can no longer be tuned. It’s almost a metaphor for the school itself as the future gets progressively bleaker.
Aside from the smartly captured visuals there is little to recommend this film. Listening to mournful teachers discuss inner workings of the tenor flute doesn’t exactly set the pulse raising. Nor does it inspire much hope in human nature and it’s easy to lose interest in the eventual outcome. I can’t imagine there will be much interest in this film outside of Georgia or even Tbilisi.