The lives, dreams and destinies of extraordinary characters unfold amidst the ruins of a semi- abandoned mining town. Music teacher keeps demolishing the city to build a new life for himself and his family; miner-turned-actor lives in a limbo unable to make a decision between his passion (theater) and money (working at the mines); and two malnourished champion athletes have to keep running just to survive.
Chiatura is a city in Western Georgia. There was a time when it was responsible for supplying 50% of the world's manganese and at its peak, the mine employed up to 10,000 workers. Today, with drastically reduced manganese production, dangerous working conditions and little prospect for any improvement, it is well on its way to becoming a ghost town.
The city was founded by Georgian poets and aristocrats in the 19th century but was turned into a center of industry by the Soviet regime. For the Soviets, it was the embodiment of a bright, utopian future. American billionaire Harriman made huge investments and lived there; theaters, universities, concert halls, stadiums and parks were built, along with the first and largest public aerial cable-car transportation system in the world. Chiatura was a human and technological experiment on a grand scale that ultimately failed.
Dir. Rati Oneli - 100min - 2017, Georgia, USA, Qatar, Netherlands
"His camera roams this post-apocalyptic ghost town, capturing arresting shots of the mountainous landscape and industrial wasteland, and stopping off with the handful of people who, despite everything, live a life like any other in this cheerless place." - IDFA
"a thrilling atmospheric tale that invokes the Georgian national epic" - DOK Leipzig
"In a city where the sun never shines, it’s only the inhabitants that generate warmth. Oneli succeeds in achieving far more than the mining companies are capable of: His camera brings that most valuable of resources to the surface – humanity." - Berlinale
"Oneli’s decision to observe his protagonists, rather than interview them, results in a feeling of familiarity, as if they had just invited him and his camera to accompany them through their everyday lives." - Cineuropa
"a constant dialogue with philosophical treatise and epic poetry" - Cinevue