The Georgian film, Beginning, that's streaming on Mubi explores the idea of supporting characters in life
Most scenes in the film, Beginning, are like insightful paintings that are trying to convey the protagonist Yana’s state of mind. Whether it is a scene where she is standing away from a chapel, after it’s attacked by extremists, with her back to a large tree or when she is sitting at home on a chair looking at things on the table with her back to the camera — these scenes communicate the loneliness and conflict that’s going on in her mind. Yana, who is married to Jehovah’s Witness leader, David, is torn between her beliefs and that of her husband. She is trying her best to be a wife and a mother. But the protagonist becomes disillusioned about life. It’s layered story-telling like this that makes Beginning, which released on Mubi this month, an interesting film.
Directed by the Georgian filmmaker, Dea Kulumbegashvili, the feature film is shot in the beautiful town of Lagodekhi, situated at the foot of the Greater Caucasus mountains, where Dea is from. The filmmaker says she has attempted to represent the life of ordinary people. “My intention was not to tell the story of this woman. I was thinking more about the character. In traditional cinema narratives, she would have been a secondary character, in the background. I realised we grow up with a lot of such people who are secondary characters in our life. Perhaps there is a big gap between cinema and life and my interest to look at people who are familiar to me, who are in a way ordinary people like all of us prompted me to make this film,” explains Dea.
One of Georgia’s most renowned actresses, Ia Sukhitashvili, plays the role of Yana. The movie also captures the conflict of a woman’s identity within a community. Explaining her approach to it, the director says, “This film is not about religion but about people. There’s something deeply ingrained in us, there is a power dynamic within a group that defines the place of women. This idea is somewhere in the background and I certainly wanted to explore this power dynamics within a community and the society at large.”
Dea, who grew up in Georgia during the civil war, says she hadn’t watched a film until she was 19. “There was a civil war and severe economic crisis during my childhood. We would get electricity only on New Year’s Day or during summer holidays and we would rush to watch films on television. At 19, when I started watching films, it was an explosion of some kind. Before that, I thought I would be a novelist but I wasn’t really happy to work only with text. That’s when I decided to make films,” she signs off.