THE EMPTY HOUSE
11-year-old Nino is growing up with her maternal grandparents in a small mountainous village of post-Soviet Georgia during the civil war in the early ’90s. She is a sensitive girl who still wets the bed and plays with her doll. For her, reality and dreams are still merged into a world full of expectations. But she is also an unpredictable character with a curious mind. She has a rather profound love for writing. Her poetic inspiration began with her deep longing for her father.
After 7 years of absence, Nino’s father returns from prison and together with her mother, she moves to her father’s family house in Tbilisi. Finally, her family, representing three generations, is complete. Nino’s Mother Irma (27) is a very caring mother, however being married at age 14, more than anything she wants to enjoy her freedom. Nino’s Father Tariel (28) is an influential figure in the criminal world, living according to the thieves’ code. Her brother David-Junior (12), who is often bullied at school, dreams of becoming strong, like his father. Her grandfather David (54) is a train conductor and a family man who provides for his household. Her grandmother Nunu (53), with gipsy origins is a fortune-teller, and Nunu’s spinster sister Margo (70) is the heart of the family who takes care of the children. Soon, however, Nino’s romantic view of the family is increasingly challenged – her father becomes violent, her grandmother tries to turn her against her own mother, the family house gradually turns into a battlefield and begins to crumble around her. Caught up in the middle of the conflict, Nino is forced to examine her internalized myths of fatherhood and love. Hopes for a caring father transform into fear of abuse and a family reunion becomes the backdrop for self-discovery and the disruption of deeply rooted emotions.
Eventually, her mother is forced to abandon her and soon her father’s behavior towards her becomes questionable. Nino is unable to tell anyone about it; instead, she writes. The aesthetics of her poems change from childhood reflections of love to allegorical narrative about life and death.
After David’s death, the family moves to a small, dirty house in Italian courtyard. Now, Nino takes care of the household and Margo, who undergoes a stroke. Eventually, Nino finds the courage to break the silence and tells her grandmother about the incident with her father, but the controlling grandmother, who is more concerned about protecting the family’s honor, reacts negatively. Nino realizes that she has to endure a war with her own father and a war for survival – survival at any cost. Soon, the doll is replaced by a cigarette, and the pen is replaced by a knife.
Faced with a reality, bitter beyond her imagination, Nino slowly leaves her childhood behind and prematurely becomes a wom
Born in post-Soviet Georgia. He studied filmmaking at the Hybrid Conservatory, Los Angeles. At age 21, he won the title of World Champion in martial arts, but in 2014, when filmmaking became the overpowering passion in his life, he left his fighting career and founded ArtWay Film production. Since then he directed several short films that were awarded internationally. His work DEDA won 19 International prizes and was screened at around 200 film festivals, including Locarno, Guanajuato IFF. His feature documentary project MAY 17 was part of IDFA and has been selected among six projects at Doc Corner – 70th Festival de Cannes. In 2017 Rati was participating at Locarno Academy and was selected among 6 directors at Festival de Cannes Cinéfondation Residence.
Georgian award-winning screenwriter and producer at ArtWay Film production. She wrote and produced several short films that were awarded internationally and have been screened at more than 200 film festivals including Locarno and Guanajuato IFF. Her feature documentary project MAY 17 won DMZ docs Award, was part of IDFA and has been selected among six projects at Doc Corner – 70th Festival de Cannes.
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