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USSR, 1971 (MIFF 1974)

Director: Georgy Shengelaya

Niko Pirosmani was a great Georgian artist, although his works are not widely known outside the Soviet Union. He painted before 1920, refusing to compromise, living a bare existence. He accepted meagre pay, often only food and drink, for works to be hung in bars and restaurants. His life was solitary, and he could not establish contact with the woman he fell in love with, a singer whom he often painted.

Shengelaya shows us Pirosmani going about his daily chores, even painting signs over a shop front. He recalls his childhood, amongst grassy hills and flocks of sheep.

Pirosmani kept a store for a living, but put an end to this livelihood by irritating a wealthy customer and giving r^way his food to the poor. His simplicity is emphasized in scenes where he buys armfuls of grass to lie upon and recollect his life in the country.

Shengelaya has used throughout the film a visual style based on Pirosmani's techniques. The photography reflects his compositions and colours; shot in muted tones, mainly ochres, browns and luminous golds, occasionally highlighted with red.

'The great virtue of Shengelaya's film is to capture a painterly quality, not only in its discreet and controlled use of soft colour, but also in the composition of shots. . .'

Gordon Gow, Films and Filming

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